2020: THE YEAR THAT PUT INDONESIAN HORROR ON THE MAP!

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2020: THE YEAR THAT PUT INDONESIAN HORROR ON THE MAP!

Maya (Tara Basro) returns to her birthplace to find a decades old curse that’s marked her for death in the Indonesian horror Impetigore.

The horror genre is no stranger to Indonesian cinema, in fact they make spooky flicks quite prolifically. It’s just that, up till now, this was only known to die hard horror movie buffs and dedicated cinephiles. That may have changed this year, thanks to streaming networks like Shudder and Netflix, whose acquiring of some recent titles has brought Indonesia’s horror cinema to mainstream attention…and availability! Film’s like Netflix’s May The Devil Take You and Shudder’s Impetigore have gotten solid reviews for being really spooky and well made movies. It’s also brought much deserved attention to not only their respective writer/directors, Timo Tjahjanto and Joko Anwar, but their resilient final girls Chelsea Islan (May The Devil Take You, May The Devil Take You Too)  and Tara Basro (Satan’s Slaves, Impetigore), as well. This has also brought attention to the fact that Netflix has numerous other Indonesian horror offerings such as The 3rd Eye franchise, The Doll and Kuntilanak, and the same goes with Sudder, Amazon Prime and Tubi. Now everyone is aware of what only a few movie fans have known for some time and thanks to these streaming networks, we have a whole new world of horror flicks to choose from!

Four recent releases that helped put Indonesian horror on the map!

(To get to our reviews of the flicks covered here, click on the highlighted titles!)

2018 Indonesian horror May The Devil Take You has teen Alfie (Chelsea Islan) and her step-siblings paying the price for their father’s occult practices.

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-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (2019)

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THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC (2019)

Indonesian horror finds Hanif (Ario Bayu from Impetigore) returning with his wife Nadya (Hannah Al Rashid) and family to the orphanage he grew up in, to pay tribute to it’s ailing caretaker (Yayu A.W. Unru). Soon strange things start to occur and as the evening goes on, it becomes clear something malevolent has targeted the visiting families. With stories of missing children and a woman who practiced witchcraft, Hanif and the others may all be in terrible danger, as the past comes back to haunt them…literally.

Indonesian horror is directed by Kimo Stamboel from a script by Joko Anwar, who has helped put Indonesian horror cinema on the map this year with Impetigore. The film is a distant remake of a 1981 Indonesian chiller of the same name and has some spooky and disturbing moments. Stamboel does not quite have the style and storytelling savvy that Anwar has, but gives us some goose-bump inducing and gross-out sequences, even if by the end we start to get a little tired of the constant bombardment of blood and insects. Anwar’s script once again gives us a story of horror that involves family, past misdeeds and a background steeped in occult practices and dark magic, much like his Impetigore and Satan’s Slaves. The film can be quite gruesome and the scenes of insects crawling in and out of people’s mouths can chill, but the film lacks the outright scares and brooding intensity that Anwar gives the film’s he directs. A decent horror, with some effective moments, but not in the same ballpark as Anwar’s films, or the May the Devil Take You series, also from Indonesia recently.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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HALLOWEEN HOTTIES: HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2020!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2020

TARA BASRO!

It’s Halloween🎃!…and as it has become tradition, it’s time to announce MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hottie of the Year!…an actress that has not only captured our hearts, but gotten our attention with a strong performance, be it as a final girl or a femme fatale!…
…and our Halloween Hottie of 2020 is…Tara Basro!
Tara Basro is a talented Indonesian actress and model who seems to have become the go-to leading lady for Indonesian director Joko Anwar. She had previously starred in his spooky horror flick Satan’s Slaves and his superhero flick Gundala, before her attention getting role as heroine Maya in the Shudder original Impetigore. This very intense and creepy flick finds down on her luck Maya looking into her past after a mysterious individual tries to kill her. Maya travels, with her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita), to the rural village that is her birthplace, in hopes of securing her inheritance. Having been away from her family home since she was a child, she finds that there is a curse on this small village. Worse still, the locals believe her family is involved and the only way to end the curse is to kill the last remaining member of the family…Maya. Thankfully the resilient and resourceful Maya proves to not be the easiest target. Not many final girls have taken on an entire village full of killers, black magic and ghosts, all at one time, but Basro’s Maya does exactly that and made an impression doing so! A talented actress we’d like to see more of, especially in the horror genre!

(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie poster to read a review of the Shudder original, Impetigore!)

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Tara Basro as Maya in Impetigore!

Down on her luck Maya has been going from one mundane job to another.

A close call with an armed madman leads disturbingly back to her ancestral village.

In the hope a life changing inheritance awaits, Maya travels back to her birthplace.

Almost immediately Maya and bestie Dini, find something is not right in this small remote village.

The more Maya finds out about her family history, the more she finds reason to be afraid…for her life!

Maya finds herself surrounded by black magic, mortal enemies and in deep trouble. Will she escape alive?

MONSTERZERO NJ’S HALLOWEEN HOTTIE OF 2020 RUNNER UP…SEO YE-JI!

As it is now tradition, we have a runner up! A new face on the horror flick scene! Korean actress Seo Ye-Ji made an impression in the Shudder Original Warning: Do Not Play as young, up and coming film director Mi-Jung. Mi-Jung has two weeks to come up with a screenplay in order to keep her first big directing job. Research leads her to a student film, that when shown at it’s premiere, caused panic and even death. Intrigued, she sets out to to find this supposedly haunted film and it’s equally elusive maker Jae-Hyun (Jin Seon-Kyu), who disappeared along with the movie. Mi-Jung learns to be careful what she wishes for and some urban legends are better left alone!
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Seo Ye-Ji as Mi-jung in Warning: Do Not Play

Mi-Jung will lose her directing job without a script, until an urban legend about a haunted film catches her attention.

Mi-Jung soon learns to be careful what you wish for and some things should be left alone.

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This year was, again, a tough choice…or maybe MonsterZero NJ is just an old softie when it comes to final girls. Both these ladies were great in their roles and really brought it as their respective film’s lead!

-MonsterZero NJ

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(And don’t forget to check out our previous Halloween Hotties by simply going to our Halloween Hotties main page!)

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SATAN’S SLAVES (2017)

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SATAN’S SLAVES (2017)

Indonesian horror is from Impetigore writer/director Joko Anwar and tells of the ailing matriarch (Ayu Laksmi) of the Suwono family. When she passes, strange things start to occur around the house, causing eldest daughter Rini (Impetigore‘s Tara Basroto look into her mother’s past. Rini finds to her horror that her mother was part of a Satanic sect and the price of what benefits she gained from it are to be paid to that sect in the form of the youngest child in the family, little Ian (Muhammad Adhiyat).

Anwar directs again from his own screenplay, this time based on a 1980 Indonesian horror of the same name. It’s a spooky film with some offsetting visuals, such as ghastly specters and the dead rising from their graves. It’s not quite as consistently intense as Impetigore and seems like about ten minutes, or so, longer than it needs to be, but it is more of a slow burn that comes to a very creepy last act and climax. The benefit of a slower pace is that we get to know the members of this family well enough to care, especially Rini, and we find out the details of the hidden part of their mother’s life gradually, as they do. Anwar also plays with the motivations of some of his spectral guests in the family’s modest home, providing some interesting twists. The writer/director gets really good work out of his cast, including the kids and especially leading lady Tara Barso, as a young woman forced to take over as head of a supernaturally embattled family. Anwar juggles a fairly large amount of characters and it helps that his strong storytelling skills are at work. Can this clan keep together and save little Ian?…and themselves?…the flick is worth a look to find out the answer. On the technical side, the visual and make-up FX are well done and provide some very chilling entities to populate this supernatural thriller and Anwar’s visual eye keeps things atmospheric and unsettling.

This is a spooky and atmospheric film from a filmmaker who is proving he is good at supplying both scares and story. Director Joko Anwar and leading lady Tara Basro are also proving to be a formidable team as they were in Impetigore. Film can be found streaming on Shudder and if you liked Impetigore, you’ll probably like this!

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 3 (out of 4) sisters of Satan’s spawn!

 

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: IMPETIGORE (2019)

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IMPETIGORE (2019)

Impetigore is an Indonesian horror that finds a young woman named Maya (Tara Basro) looking into her past after a mysterious individual tries to kill her. Also down on her luck, Maya returns, with her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita), to the rural village that is her birthplace, to seek her inheritance. Having been away from her family home since she was a child, she finds that there is a curse on this small village. Worse still, the locals believe her family is involved and the only way to end the curse is to kill the last remaining member of her family…Maya.

Very spooky and well-made flick is written and directed by Joko Anwar and is a nice mix of dark folktale and city girl in a backwoods nightmare. Anwar creates a very thick atmosphere of malevolence and dread as Maya enters her former hometown, that she hasn’t step foot in since she was five years-old. As those around her plot against her, Maya finds a past filled with jealousy, infidelity, murder and black magic. The writer/director slowly lets us find out the real facts about Maya’s past, as she does, with a nice last act reveal that finally unveils the dark truth behind the curse and it’s origin, as well as, Maya’s role in it and how it can be stopped. It’s classic storytelling and the elements of dark fairy tale, backwoods horror and Indonesian culture are all blended skillfully. The last act has some very suspenseful moments, as the outnumbered Maya is hunted through the village and surrounding woods and it’s all delivered with a very impressive visual style from director Anwar and cinematographer Ical Tanjung. Up till that point, the film is consistently unsettling as Maya gradually finds out what’s going on and how much trouble she’s in. It helps that our heroine is also very likable, as is her spunky best friend Dini. There is some bloody violence and gore and the plot elements involving village newborns, missing children, and puppets made out of human skin are extremely effective, especially when woven into the story so well. Anwar is a skilled storyteller and one who knows how to tell one in a very chilling and unnerving way.

The cast are all very good with lead Tara Basro standing out as Maya. She is a young woman trying to make a living in the city and who remembers very little about her past. When that past comes for her with a vengeance, she bravely, though cautiously, goes to get some answers, though her dire financial situation also plays a factor in her decision. When she realizes there is a village out to kill her, her resilient side comes through. Marissa Anita is cute and feisty as her friend Dini. Dini is a true friend indeed, traveling with Maya to this spooky little village in the middle of nowhere and the actress makes her very endearing. Ario Bayu is very effective as the film’s villain, village elder Ki Saptadi. He is the one who believes Maya’s demise is the answer to the village’s curse problems and Anwar does throw us a nice curve concerning Saptadi in the last act and Bayu plays it all well. In support there is Christine Hakim who oozes malevolence as Nyi Misni, Saptadi’s mother and Zidni Hakim and Faradina Mufti play Maya’s parents in flashbacks with no dialogue.

This is a very spooky and atmospheric film from a filmmaker who knows how to tell a story. It’s part backwoods horror and part dark folktale, with a young woman whose past comes back to haunt her. There is a very effective mood of danger and malevolence, some very atmospheric Indonesian locations, really taunt suspense and some surprising reveals and unlocked secrets, that enrich an already engrossing tale. Highly recommended and both director Joko Anwar and leading lady Tara Basro are talents to keep an eye on. Now streaming on Shudder!

-MonsterZero NJ

 

Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) unfortunate heirs to a family curse!

 

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