The original Munafik, (which I haven’t seen) was released in 2016 and became a major hit in its native Malaysia. Now the sequel, which was also a huge hit, Munafik 2, has turned up on Netflix. Having only seen one other Malaysian film, Dukun, I decided to give it a watch.
In the original Adam, a traditional religious medical practitioner, played by writer/director Syamsul Yusof, was struggling with his faith after losing his wife. He’s convinced to take up the case of a woman who may have a link to the accident that killed his wife and must face the forces of darkness and reclaim his faith.
Munafik 2 picks up years later. Adam has regained his faith and career. He is approached to help a single mother Sakinah (Maya Karin). She lives in a rural village and is being tormented by a spirit linked to Abuja (Nasir Bilal Khan). He is a fanatic teaching a distorted version of Islam for his own purposes and willing to kill those who oppose him. Adam will have to fight both supernatural and flesh and blood enemies in order to save her, and himself.
Probably the best way to describe Munafik 2 would be to imagine any of the multitudes of cult oriented horror films. Then imagine a “faith-based” take of it. Because just as those films make everything in them secondary to pushing their message of Jesus and Christianity, so does this for Allah and Islam. And it’s every bit as tedious.
With all the preaching pared down, Munafik 2 could still have been an entertaining film. Abuja is a ruthless villain. We first see him burning somebody at the stake. Shortly after he’s taking credit for sending demons after Sakinah’s father. Pitting him against the devout Adam could have been an enjoyable good versus evil tale. The various battles between good and evil are well done and fairly exciting. But the constant hammering away with the film’s message
I do give Munafik 2 credit for, even obliquely, dealing with a major issue in the Muslim world, violent religious extremism. Abuja could as easily be the leader of ISIS or any other extremist group. Demanding loyalty to their brand of religion and killing those who hold to more mainstream versions of their faith. It’s message of rejecting this is a good one, in any culture.
Munafik 2 is proof heavy-handed preaching is dull in any faith. Unless you feel the need for a sermon, I’d avoid it.
Munafik 2 is currently streaming on Netflix in Malaysian with subtitles