The very 1st Chinese language original series is expected to put Malaysia on the world map, particularly among fans of the genre
by LYDIA NATHAN
THE title says it all. “The Ghost Bride” — an anticipated original production by Netflix — is expected to be the main event that would certainly resonate with many supernatural and horror buffs.
The series, helmed by two homegrown directors, Quek Shio Chuan and Ho Yuhang, would also “educate” the uninitiated on ancient traditional mythology that is mainly known among the Chinese.
Best of all, the very first Chinese language original series is also expected to put Malaysia on the world map, particularly among fans of the genre.
The six-episode series, to be screened for the first time on Jan 23, is an adaptation of a novel by the New York Times bestseller Malaysian author, Yangsze Choo.
It tells the story of a young woman who receives a proposal to become a “ghost bride” to the deceased son of a very wealthy family.
Set in early 19th century Melaka, the series opens with 20- year-old Li Lan who, in a bid to save her family from falling into debt, is pressured to marry the only son of a wealthy family. There’s just one catch: He’s deceased.
Ghost wedding is a traditional Chinese practice that involves a marriage in which one or both parties are dead.
One reason for the unconventional union is that, for those who die unmarried, they will not be alone in the afterlife.
The completion of the project took the production team all across Malaysia, namely in Penang, Taiping and Ipoh.
“Actually, the majority of filming was done in Iskandar Puteri, Johor Baru. It is set in Melaka, but so many of the heritage sites we filmed in were so well preserved and suited the era. We had references that we could replicate,” Quek told the press at the launch of the series in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
According to Quek, this is Netflix’s first large-scale collaboration with Malaysia that features local and international talents, as well as production teams.
“It is amazingly liberating to work with a brand like Netflix that respects, supports and empowers artistic freedom.
“We are thrilled to have this opportunity to share this modern interpretation of traditional Chinese folklore and local stories with a global audience,” he said.
His co-director Ho said the series is not meant to be categorised under horror as it offers more of the “supernatural romance” theme.
“It is not meant to scare anyone, as it has a fun side to the supernatural genre.
“We have a stellar cast and the series allowed them to bring different versions of emotions to the screen,” Ho said.
The cast is a mix of local actors including Malaysia’s Kuang Tian, Angeline Tan, Jordan Voon, Jojo Goh and Susan Leong, as well leading roles for Taiwanese Pei Jia, Wu Kang Ren, and Chinese-Canadian Ludi Lin.
A Netflix’s spokesperson for Malaysia told The Malaysian Reserve that the digital content provider is always scouting for stories that are uniquely Malaysians, but at the same time relevant to the international audience.
“’The Ghost Bride’ is based on superstitious myth, but is ‘very’ Chinese-Peranakan. Even though it is quite localised, it can be very appealing to other cultures.
“This is what we are looking for. We try and find storylines that people will enjoy all around the world.
“This is what makes Netflix different. The combination of local originals is quite balanced out against the Western shows,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that there is definitely some good talent here in Malaysia, and that would open more opportunities to create other contents in the country for the world to enjoy.
Meanwhile, the digital tax charges that went into force from Jan 1, could have prompted the digital provider to revise the prices for its packages.
Netflix recently revised its Basic plan from RM33 to RM35, Standard from RM42 to RM45 and Premium from RM51 to RM55.
The spokesperson, however, said the price increases are not just due to the tax. “It’s also about investing more in creative content and production. The tax charges are only a part of our prices,” the spokesperson said.
To date, Netflix serves over 158 million paid subscribers in 190 countries.