The three leads in Misteri Dilaila, (from left) Sasqia Dahuri, Elizabeth Tan and Zul Ariffin. (All photos from Skop Productions, Astro Shaw)
Rosyam as Inspector Azman.
Zul Ariffin

AFTER the success of his movies such as Abang Long Fadil franchise and KL Special Force, young director and screenwriter Syafiq Yusof has proven his mettle.

His latest offering, Misteri Dilaila, a horror movie which opened in cinemas yesterday, is expected to raise the bar yet again with a few surprises for moviegoers.

When the official trailer was released last month, many viewers admitted that it had teased them enough to wait impatiently for it to hit the cinemas.

Misteri Dilaila tells the story of a couple, Jefri (Zul Ariffin) and Dilaila (Elizabeth Tan) who return to Dilaila’s family home in Fraser’s Hill.

On the first night there, Jefri has strange encounters. The following morning, he discovers that his wife has gone missing.

After lodging a police report, he is visited by Imam Aziz (Namron) who brings along with him Dilaila (Sasqia Dahuri).

Jefri, however, does not think that the woman is his wife, although she insists that she is and can prove to him that she is indeed his wife.

So where or what has happened to Jefri’s Dilaila? Who is the real Dilaila? Will Jefri be able to unravel this mystery?

Industry sources say that this movie has the mother of all plot twists.

It has also been said that Syafiq has also cleverly ensured moviegoers watch Misteri Dilaila more than once.

A joint venture between Skop Productions and Astro Shaw, Misteri Dilaila marks the 26-year-old filmmaker’s eighth film, his second horror movie after Villa Nabila.

36 DAYS OF FILMING

“I took quite a long time to write the script. Even developing the idea took two months. It had been a headache,” says Syafiq of the movie which costs RM2.2 million.

Syafiq had thought of the cast line-up before the script was ready.

Hunky actor Zul is his first choice to play the lead role of Jefri.

“I’m not the bravest person to act in a horror movie, having to film many scenes from night to dawn. But who in the right mind would give up an opportunity such as this?” asks Zul, 32.

He adds that working with a perfectionist such as Syafiq, he had to be ready for any changes during the 36 days of filming.

“I didn’t need to look for any reference to play Jefri. The script is good enough as a guide. I trust Syafiq’s good acumen,” adds Zul.

On whether Syafiq chose both Sasqia and Tan for their uncanny resemblance to each other, he says it is mere coincidence.

This mere coincidence works well for him and the movie.

“I chose Sasqia for her height as there are scenes of her struggling with Zul. If I chose someone whom Zul easily towers over, the scenes would look a little awkward.

“Tan is the perfect candidate as she is of Sasqia’s height and stature. A spitting image of each other is indeed a bonus,” says Syafiq.

Tan, 25, also sang the original soundtrack for the movie, Kalaulah Hidup Semula.

Sasqia, 33, is indeed excited to see moviegoers’ response to the movie and her acting.

“Of course, I’m grateful for this chance to play this character. While I usually play the antagonist in both films and drama series, in this movie, I play all — from being the victim to the aggressor.

“This is the best opportunity I’ve had in my eight years as an actress. It has been a satisfying project for me.

“If this turns out to be my breakthrough role, it’s a bonus.”

Although she may have stepped into the local entertainment scene as a singer, it is no longer a secret that Tan prefers acting.

“I’m more comfortable in front of a camera rather than onstage. But being a greenhorn, I’m nervous at the response from moviegoers,” says the artiste whose video of Joe Flizzow’s Havoc went viral in 2014.

Misteri Dilaila is Tan’s second outing on the big screen, after appearing in Mamat Khalid’s Usop Wilcha Meghonjang Makhluk Muzium in 2015.

Tan considers herself fortunate to be given a chance to play a lead role despite her lack of experience.

“When you’re relatively new in the industry, you can’t be picky. Besides, who can say ‘no’ to an offer from Skop Productions? To get the lead role is the icing on the cake.”

She first worked with the production house in the 2017 drama series My Darling, Inspektor Daniel, alongside Datuk Aaron Aziz and Elizad Sharifuddin.

Tan admits that it wasn’t easy playing a ghost.

“It’s not about being spooked or frightened but rather the special effects make-up and fake blood.”

Asked if she encountered any strange incidents while filming, Tan says she did not come across anything unnatural.

“I just don’t believe in all that. If there had been any weird goings-on, I’d have easily missed it,” adds Tan who does not like watching horror movies.

“I once watched (the 2004 thriller movie) Lost and I just didn’t like it. For three days, the images from the movie haunted me. It’s just not my cup of tea.”

Tan is currently filming a telemovie for Hari Raya Aidilfitri, acting alongside another heartthrob, Syafiq Kyle.

“I am also busy promoting the soundtrack for Misteri Dilaila,” says Tan of the song composed by Audi Mok and lyrics by Shazee Ishak.

Her record label Warner Music Malaysia also plans for her to cut an album this year.

“We haven’t finalised anything yet. It’s still too early to divulge further.”

FORCE TO RECKON WITH

“When Syafiq approached me with the role of Inspector Azman, I was a little sceptical for it was only last year that I acted in his movie KL Special Force,” says Datuk Rosyam Nor.

However, after the young director convinced him that this time around he would be playing a different kind of police officer — with less action but more dialogue — Rosyam finally agreed.

“I fell in love with his first movie SAM: Saya Amat Mencintaimu (the 2012 movie starring Shaheizy Sam, Lisa Surihani and Syafiq’s brother actor and director Syamsul).

“Having worked with his father (Datuk Yusof Haslam), I know him from when he was small. I know he is talented,” adds Rosyam, 51.

With such trust and confidence in Syafiq, Rosyam says he didn’t even ask to read the script.

“It’s enough for me to tell him to offer me a good character which is hard for me to turn down,” says the multiple award-winning actor.

Rosyam also believes Syafiq works hard in making viewers think while watching his movies.

“I daresay that moviegoers will be satisfied after watching a movie directed by him. This movie will create history in the local film industry.

The backing of Skop Productions was another reason Rosyam took on the role of Inspector Azman.

“The company founded by his father has a huge branding. Of course I’m confident working with a production house as illustrious as Skop Productions.

“Just look at the character Tailong I played in KL Gangster 2 in 2013, directed by Syamsul. Even until now, people still remember that character,” he says.

For Rosyam, a good memorable role does not necessarily mean that of a hero or lead actor.

“I always insist on a role that leaves an impact on viewers. That is one way for me to keep being relevant in the industry at this age and in this era, when there are many new young faces,” adds Rosyam who has been acting for 36 years.

Misteri Dilaila is currently showing in cinemas.