Fans of Gantung will be happy to know that the popular local horror novel by Nadia Khan will be brought to life in the small screen next year.
“I read Gantung last year and I loved it. I read it twice. I’ve loved her writing since her first novel Kelabu,” said producer and Red Communications founder Lina Tan who is adapting the bestseller into an eight-episode miniseries of the same name.
Gantung opens with four boys studying at an elite private college. They each make a pact to not have a serious girlfriend. But, one of them breaks the promise, and strange occurences start to take place.
Besides Malaysian actors Hafreez Adam and Ikmal Amry, the series, which has already completed filming, stars Indonesian actors Randy Pangalila, Mentari de Marelle, Brandon Salim and Gita Sucia, giving it a regional appeal.
Gantung will be released in Indonesia early next year before hitting Malaysian shores. It will be in Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and English.
“I’ve always wanted to do horror but I want to do a horror flick that has a strong story first and the horror element is an addition to the story. I don’t want it to be scary just for the sake of scaring viewers,” Tan shares.
As such, the miniseries format allows viewers to delve deep into the storyline (Tan initially thought of adapting it into a film).
“We gave the characters more back stories,” she says, adding the script was written by a panel of writers headed by the book’s author Nadia herself.
Asked how closely the series will follow the novel, Tan teases: “We follow the book quite closely but there is something new.”
And although the story is spread over eight episodes, she assures there will be scares delivered on every episode.
She also talks about how the novel’s more risque content will translate on the small screen, saying, “We understand the sensitivities here. (At the same time), the story has to do with four boys in a college who are up to all kinds of mischief, we have to stay true to the story. So we toned it down. It’s not going to be like in the shows in the West where they’re very daring in that manner.”
Tan was speaking to reporters at the launch of Astro’s new Asian horror channel, Boo, which will be airing Gantung.
Astro’s chief operating officer Henry Tan believes there is interest in the genre here following the recent record-breaking feats of two horror flicks.
“The two big successes this year have been Munafik and Train To Busan and we hope that’s a good gauge of the kind of interest people here have of the genre.”
Tan chimes in: “As a producer, I find it very easy to sell horror. I find it easier to sell horror than to sell a love story. Everybody understands horror.”
On whether there will be enough Asian horror content to fuel the channel’s 24-hour programming belt in the long run, Henry says: “There’s plenty of really good horror offerings from all around Asia. There will also be the classics coming in. I don’t think there’s any issues with filling up the offerings.”
Boo airs on Astro Ch 404 and is also available on demand via connected PVR and Astro on the Go.
Henry also comments on the choice of the channel number: “It was partly intentional. We had to look at the availability of the channel number of course and we thought 404 sounded like a nice number for a horror channel.”