FILM REVIEW: Hawa
In a post-apocalyptic Malaysia, little Hawa is locked in her room by her parents. To kill time, she plays around in the room and entertains herself. Everything changes the day Meng arrives at the house next door. His presence, although unwelcomed, will soon spark a journey.
Little did they know, horror and danger beyond their wildest imagination awaits.
Director: Ce Ding Tan
Cast: Hawa Khadeeja, Vincent Wong
Language: Malay and Chinese with English subtitles
Runtime: 15 min
Review by Nadia Alang
This short post-apocalyptic film does away with the chaotic action of most of its genre but it doesn’t take away the horror that comes with the end of the world. In fact, the astounding cinematography and the exceptional talents of young actors actually add to this.
We are introduced to the titular child protagonist with cross-cut shots filled with powerful sound effects and lighting that effectively shows not only her run-down surroundings but evoke a sense of a psychological breakdown. As though that doesn’t do enough to tug at our hearts, Hawa is dressed innocently in a sweet baju kurung, and carries only a pair of headphones around to escape her depressing surroundings. The sweet and simple get-up reminds us that she is only a child.
However, her feistiness proves this child is more complex than she seems and the exceptional performance by Hawa Khadeeja pulled this off perfectly. Almost too perfectly…the scene where she mimics zombie-like actions left me feeling pretty disturbed.
I particularly loved the attention to details that are cleverly shot in this film. Simple costumes and objects are used creatively to do more than just depict the surroundings – they also provide some insight into the rich culture in Malaysia.
The other child character is interestingly a Chinese boy, Meng, who attempts to make friends with the lonely Hawa and their contrasting personalities also makes this a unique duo with a friendship that could have been beautiful if not for the impending post-apocalyptic doom.
Post-apocalyptic films have always repulsed me because it goes too much into politics – the battles, the food rationing, the leaders, yada yada. Rarely do we see films like Hawa that simply and powerfully remind us that the true horror underneath all that mess is the loss of innocent lives. It is this heartbreaking reminder that makes this film so powerful for me.