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Perempuan Tanah Jahanam
2019 / 106m - Indonesia
Impetigore poster

My first Joko Anwar. Anwar's been making a name for himself as a genre director and based on this film, it's not hard to see why. While Indonesia in general is enjoying a little horror boost of late, Impetigore is one of the most competent films I've seen from that region so far, stopping just short of true greatness.

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Maya, an orphan, works night shifts in a toll booth. One night, she is attacked by a creepy man who seems to know more about her past. After a quick investigation Maya discovers more about her roots and decides to travel to her hometown to find out what happened all these years ago.

Anwar clearly has a knack for crafting a moody film. The cinematography is strong, with excellent use of color and lighting, the soundtrack isn't too shabby either and performances are on point. The problem is the plot, which offers little beyond the usual Indonesian ghost fare. After a strong start, the setup's just a little too slow and the pay-off not quite harsh enough, keeping the film from getting an even higher rating. Well recommended for horror fans.

Satan's Slaves

Pengabdi Setan
2017 / 107m - Indonesia
Satan's Slaves poster

I guess the most disappointing thing about a film called Satan's Slaves is that it's really just another ghost/hauntings flick. In twenty years time, many Asian horror films still haven't really moved beyond Ringu. While the story itself tries to incorporate some novel influences, the horror is just shrouded ghosts and pale faces.

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Rini lives with her family in a remote village, where they take care of their sick mom. When she dies strange things start happening around the house and Rini begins to suspect her mom has kept something important from them. When grandma suddenly dies and the youngest of the family becomes the target of violent hauntings, everyone's in a panic.

Satan's Slaves is a well-made film, the problem is that you've probably seen it many times before. Performances are solid and the cinematography is stylish, but the haunts aren't all that scary and the backstory never really comes into its own. Certainly not bad, but it could've done with more original lore.