Director: Azhar Kinoi Lubis
Cast: Putri Ayudya, Sujiwo Tejo, Indah Permatasari, Rangga Azof, Nadya Arina
Runtime: 1 hr 37 mins
Rating: PG13 (Horror)
Released By: mm2 Entertainment and Cathay Cineplexes
Opening Day: 8 November 2018
Synopsis: A family's happiness is shattered when their father dies a sudden gruesome death after spitting up glass. Soon, mysterious events begin plaguing the family and their village. The mother, Sri, begins to experience disturbing occult visions, making her increasingly paranoid and fearful. The village shaman dies mysteriously and his house is burnt to the ground. Circumstances escalate at a deadly pace, forcing the children Andi and Dina to make a fateful decision that will unroot the cause of their father’s mysterious death and save their mother.
We often scoff when see a horror movie originating from Southeast Asia. A possessed doll, a dead mother haunting her family, a girl who sees spirits and a woman who dabbles with black magic – everything does sound laughable at first but trust us, things are just a little creepier in this part of the world where it’s closer to home, forests seem darker than usual and dead people are more likely to send shivers down your spine.
And that is why Singaporeis seeing increasing numbers of Southeast Asian productions like this Indonesian movie banking on the ever popular horror genre.
In this movie directed by Azhar Kinoi Lubis, a seemingly happy family has to deal with the tragedy of the father’s death. Things are sad at first, but terror starts invading the house when the mother becomes another person. The son and his girlfriend are helpless, while the daughter wants to get to the bottom of things by uncovering a terrifying family secret. In the mix is a village witch doctor who concocts scary potions which promise the world for desperate individuals, but will only bring about devastating results.
The 97 minute movie works, thanks to its competent cast. Putri Ayudya plays the mother of the family, and one can easily imagine the distress the character is going through. The two children portrayed by Rangga Azof and Nadya Karina display genuinely frightened expressions, and one does not feel that they are contrived characters. Sporting a head of frizzy long hair, Sujiwo Tejo delivers a memorably daunting performance as the shaman who may have bargained with the dark side more than he should. This is the kind of shady dude your mother always warned you against.
The production values are worth commending as well. Some standout sequences involving burning fire and levitating characters will make you sit up and gasp in horror. While the movie seems to have the intention of keeping all its scares in the final act, it might have been more effective if the shocks were spaced out more evenly. The story also attempts to deliver a twist, but its impact may be lost on viewers who are fans of the genre.
In any case, there are still moments that are well executed. Jump scares are present, but they do not feel exploited. The filmmakers make good use of the limited filming locations to create a foreboding atmosphere that takes away any bits of cheer. The ongoing rain and thunder storms do not make things any better. You can feel the tension and frustration going on in the house with the editing and art direction. Will the good guys survive the ordeal although a pact has been made? What will it take for characters to believe the presence of evil (the title means ‘non believer’)? Is this the movie where viewers will come face to face with the devil?
For a movie that is rated PG13, it delivers a decent amount of scares that may make you a fan of Southeast Asian horror cinema.
(Believe your mother when she tells you to steer clear of shady people who dabble with black magic)
Review by John Li