Saturday, 9 February 2019

More Vanishing Children (2017) - Short Horror Film Review

Brunei's premier horror film creator Abdul Zainidi (Ostrich Supernatural Game, Jentingkai) has been in contact with another short horror film of his, this time the documentary/anthology More Vanishing Children that he wrote, directed, and filmed. This is the second one in his series about missing people and local superstitions in Brunei. While his films all follow very similar themes the location itself is forever unique in feel, and basing his stories on real myths and legends from around the area is a nice touch.

This fifteen minute short is a documentary that covers four different tales of missing children. The first of these is Penjaga (The Watcher) which is about some kids exploring an abandoned house who then encounter the titular spirit. Next up is Anak Buluh (Child of the Bamboo) that details the mythical jungle being Tagur that takes away people who acknowledge it. The third is Kelindahau and is about a creature of that name who likes to play hide and seek with children by spiriting them away. The final story is Memburu Hantu (Ghost Hunting) that sees a group of friends exploring an abandoned school.

While this follows a similar format to much of Zainidi's other work as always it is the setting that worked the best. There are some creepy looking locations used that help create atmosphere, as does the music chosen. The voice over often helps as well as making these stories feel more sinister than the onscreen action. Of the four stories it is Penjaga which I felt worked the best, it had a nice finish to it that a lot of the other ones didn't really have. Saying that Kelindahau had some nice parts, the ending shot of a face lit in the darkness worked well. Of the four different parts though it was Memburu Hantu which fared the worst as nothing really seemed to happen in it. Across these shorts a variety of different beings are examined yet visually on camera there is no real change in how they are displayed, often going into a first person mode, or having a reaction shot rather than show anything.

More Vanishing Children is a tiny bit rough around the edges, but then that is something the director readily admits. Personally I thought it was a bit more higher quality than some of his previous shorts, especially the camera quality which seemed to be a big improvement, on the whole this remained engaging throughout with the anthology aspect working out well. This film was a selection at the Bucheon International Film Festival in 2017.


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