PETALING JAYA • Back in 2006 when Malaysian actress Umie Aida was shooting movie Dukun, she lived with a snake for two months to study its movements and incorporate them as part of her shaman character's persona.
"For two months, I did everything with it," she recalled. "There were even times when I went to sleep and the snake would be on my bed."
Umie, 45, said she had to overcome her fear of snakes for the greater cause of her craft, reported Malaysian newspaper The Star.
But her dedication has paid off, with the horror thriller earning RM6.2 million (S$2.1 million) at the box office within just four days of its release in Malaysia and Brunei.
Directed by Dain Said, the plot revolves around a seductive shaman who is investigated for the death of a businessman after a ritual she performed went awry.
The film is believed to be loosely based on real-life singer-turned-witch doctor Mona Fandey who was found guilty of the murder of a Malaysian state politician in 1993.
She was executed in 2001.
The box-office success has benefited from the long wait for Dukun to be screened after it was completed 12 years ago.
Talk had it that its graphic nature and macabre storyline - with elements of violence and superstition - had upset certain parties, resulting in production company Astro Shaw shelving it.
On April 2, however, it announced an April 5 release date.
Prior to the announcement, a short clip depicting a ghostly figure of a woman dressed in a red kebaya walking alone at night had gone viral on social media.
It was later revealed to be a promotional gimmick for the film.