Ada Hantu 2

Ada Hantu 2 Builds on a Winning Formula

Dept. of Satisfying Sequels


The first Ada Hantu was a revelation. It was one of three local “originals” – alongside J2: J Retribusi (meh!) and Zombitopia (garbage) – released exclusively on Disney Plus Hotstar when the service launched in 2021 and it completely blew us away. It was the antithesis of everything we had come to expect from a local movie. It was smart and self-referential. It was funny. It was a studied take on the genre that was unlike anything in Malaysian cinema. Ada Hantu 2 builds on that successful formula to once again deliver a movie that is both highly accomplished and incredibly entertaining.

This movie wastes absolutely no time in getting going. It begins right back at the old house, where the gang – Aliff, Bariah, Talha, Jimmy, and Sasha – are about to live stream their exploits as they search for a secret room that has been haunting Bariah’s dreams. Throwing us right into the action is an incredibly efficient way to kickstart this movie. One that respects the audience enough to go: “If you’ve seen the first movie, you don’t need any explanation as to what’s going on. And if you haven’t, we know that you’re smart enough to figure it out.”

Jangan Pandang Belakang

Ada Hantu 2

Ada Hantu 2 is a movie that does everything it sets out to do and does it well. Once again, there is an acknowledgment of what this movie is and some shrewd meta commentary on where it sits within the local context. It borrows the cinematic language of bad Malaysian movies and then uses it to subvert our expectations. Director Hairul Azreen also pokes a little at critics and click seekers. Has some fun with gore. Before finally returning to, and teasing us, with some real stakes.

This movie’s biggest inspiration is the Japanese horror comedy One Cut of the Dead. But while Hairul, along with writers Adrian Teh and Amar Amir, borrow that movie’s structure, they nevertheless keep this one true to everything that they had already established in Ada Hantu. There is a strong sense of continuity between both movies that very effectively sets this one up as now part of a trilogy.

This Is No Sophomore Slump

Ada Hantu 2

I also feel it important to point out that this is only Hairul Azreen’s second movie as director. While his first attempt already displayed a clarity of vision, there is definitely a growing confidence to his style, skill, and ability. He feels a lot more comfortable with his actors this time around. Their performances are a lot more natural and their friendship a lot more believable. (Shout out to Rubini Sambanthan whose effortless turn as Hana belies the fact that this is her first ever movie.)

Hairul’s comic timing is also superb. And my only major criticism would be that the movie could have done without all of the TikTok and YouTube references. It really didn’t need it. The best jokes here were rooted in and derived from character. And those were the moments that had me laughing the loudest.

But mostly, it is Hairul’s attention to detail that makes this movie work as well as it does.

The key to any successful story is narrative consistency. As audiences, we are expected to suspend a certain amount of disbelief when we sit down to watch any movie. That’s where good writing and intricate plotting comes in. It builds worlds and establishes laws. It asks us to believe in the impossible but not in the improbable. Hairul doesn’t break any of the rules that he sets up in his story. We aren’t expected to put up with contrivances. There is instead subtle foreshadowing and misdirection, plot twists that are rooted in character, and a constant momentum throughout. There are no false promises or extemporaneous indulgences. Every detail here contributes in some way to the overall narrative.


Ada Hantu 2

As Malaysians we are constantly being harassed to support local productions. It is a ridiculous call to action that is utterly disrespectful to both audiences and filmmakers. It presumes that the only way Malaysian movies can make any bank at the box office is by guilt tripping audiences into watching them. It treats the moviegoing public as undiscerning philistines who can be satiated with a steady diet of subliterate cinema. Blind support only leads to more shitty movies. The more you reward bad behaviour, the more it gets repeated.

What we should do instead is celebrate the good movies and call out the bad ones for what they are. We should support directors who try new things. We should hold our movies to the same critical standards that we do all movies.

Both Ada Hantu movies toy with what you think a Malaysian movie is and how it might play out. And while this one may not be as surprising or as original as the first (sequels rarely are), Ada Hantu 2 is nevertheless a well crafted middle movie that feels of a piece with the original. Make no mistake, this is a very clever follow up that builds on the mythology, escalates the action, and really delivers on the laughs. I say bring on Ada Hantu 3.

Ada Hantu 2 opens in Malaysian cinemas on Thursday, September 15. You can watch the first Ada Hantu on Disney Plus Hotstar.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

Ada Hantu 2
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