Indonesia has a proud tradition of horror movies, with the nation’s filmmakers reveling in scaring audiences stiff. More recently, comedy-horror films have started to make their mark. Among the latest releases are “Nenek Gayung” (“The Bucket Grandmother”), which gained 429,000 viewers, and its sequel, “Kakek Cangkul” (“The Hoe Grandfather”), which attracted more than 200,000 viewers.
Now the company behind those two films, Movie Eight Production, has brought out another film sure to cause some squeals: “Mama Minta Pulsa” (“Mother Asking for Phone Credit”) hit screens on Thursday. In it, veteran actress Farida Pasha returns as Mak Lampir, her most recognizable role since 1998.
The film opens with a group of hopeful security guards at a boot camp. Some of them receive hoax messages. The sender pretends to be their mom running out of phone credit and asks them to refill it. Iko (Rizky Mocil), Tino (Kikky Rizky), Tessa (Shinta Bachir) and Jelly (Kartika Putri) ignore these messages when they find out it’s a hoax.
At the same time, two boot camp assistants, Umar (Daus Sparo) and Said (Opie Kumiz), find a mobile phone in the boot camp area. When an incoming message asks for phone credit, Umar replies to the text with a joke.
It’s a big mistake. After he sends the reply, a dark-faced, long-haired female ghost that is Mak Lampir comes to haunt him. The ghost says she wants some phone credit and if she doesn’t get any, she will take his life.
Scared to death, Umar runs and throws the phone away. Unfortunately, his colleague Tino finds the mobile phone and the boot camp horror begins.
After a series of low-budget horror movies featuring ghost figures and urban legends such as “pocong” and “kuntilanak,” Movie Eight said it was a good time to resurrect Mak Lampir on the silver screen.
Mak Lampir is a daunting devil worshipper from the radio show “Misteri Gunung Berapi” (“The Mystery of the Volcano”) in the 1980s. In 1998, Mak Lampir got its own TV series and it lasted for eight years.
Movie Eight is the subsidiary of a specialist in low-budget horror film, Maxima Pictures. Some of their most recognized movies are “Suster Keramas” (“Hair Washing Nurse”) and “Menculik Miyabi” (“Kidnapping Miyabi”).
We also spoke with ‘Mama Minta Pulsa’s’ Queen of Screams, Farida Pasha.
You’ve finally returned to film after four years (Farida’s last film was “40 Hari Bangkitnya Pocong” by Rudy Soedjarwo in 2008). What have you been doing since then?
Oh, not much. I have been busy with my Koran reading club. I live in Bukit Sentul so I go to Bogor a lot.
How did it feel to play Mak Lampir again after six years?
It felt the same, actually. I think I have been playing [Mak Lampir] for too long, so it just came naturally even after six years. I didn’t dub my voice. When I was doing Mak Lampir the TV series, it was dubbed because we were very busy back then. But now I felt OK doing it.
Why did you accept the role of Mak Lampir once again?
I miss the rush and togetherness that you can only get from shooting a film. It’s also nice to get to know young talent.
I’m in my sixties now, I’m not young anymore. I believe my daily prayer five times a day is what is keeping me healthy. And the make-up artist knows I never miss my five-time daily prayer. I am known for this. They never complain about correcting my make-up after the ablution. They even remind me not to forget to pray.
We are like a big family at the shooting venue. This time, they even got me a nicer prayer room. I’m so thankful that I work with people who understand.
Mak Lampir is quite a popular ghost figure in Indonesia. Is there a plan to make any more movies about Mak Lampir?
I don’t think so. Not for a TV film, at least.
What do you think about Indonesian horror movies?
I don’t watch a lot of films. So I don’t really know about them.
Comedy-horror is quite a new genre. How do you feel about it?
It’s the first time I watched it. It’s quite different than what it used to be. I think ‘Mama Minta Pulsa’ is a really funny movie, although it’s a little scary.
Have you ever received a hoax, mama-minta-pulsa SMS?
No, thankfully I never have. I hope I will never get one. That would be scary [to be haunted after receiving a hoax].
Are you keen to play other roles?
Yes. I want to get a role in a religious film.I want people to see me in a completely different light to what they do when I play Mak Lampir. Insha Allah, it is going to happen soon. I’m sure I can do it. As an actor, I want to be able to play a varietyof roles.
Does this have something to do with personal changes in your life?
Not really; I was raised as a religious person, actually. The team at the venue knows this. They always provide a gallon of water for me at the shooting venue so I can perform the ablution before the prayer. They also give a friendly schedule so I usually get home at around 11 p.m. and I still get to do evening and morning prayers. This is why I keep accepting job offers from them. Lisa Siregar