FANTASIA19 REVIEW: DreadOut [2019]

Don’t you dare say those words. Malignant forces within Catholic tales of evil generally seek to create Hell on Earth by finding a host willing to read the ancient words serving as their key. It’s therefore rare to receive scenes of demonic possession wherein a writhing body with black fluid spewing from its mouth screams for a portal not to be opened. But that’s exactly how writer/director Kimo Stamboel opens his cinematic adaptation of DreadOut—an indie survival horror videogame from Indonesia. He introduces a group of men holding the demon…

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REVIEW: Marlina Si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak [Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts] [2017]

This is my prisoner. Considering the seemingly endless number of Hollywood male directors tackling women empowerment films as a means to declare themselves feminists while also—wittingly or not—preserving their careers at the expense of the women they’re seemingly in solidarity with, you must give renowned Indonesian director Garin Nugroho credit for recognizing the treatment he wrote entitled “The Woman” needed a woman’s voice. This isn’t rocket science and yet men in power staying in their lane are still the exception. Nugroho told Mouly Surya about the project during a film…

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FANTASIA18 REVIEW: Pengabdi Setan [Satan’s Slaves] [2017]

Have pity on the children. It wasn’t until 2006 that cult Indonesian horror film Pengabdi Setan [Satan’s Slave] finally received a DVD pressing after accruing its mystique without subtitles courtesy of a Japanese VHS. The 1980 release from director Sisworo Gautama Putra has been called an unofficial remake of Don Coscarelli‘s Phantasm, its supernatural haunting steeped in Muslim beliefs and Indonesian folklore rather than the usual Christian trappings associated with the Devil. The pedigree it holds therefore made it unsurprising that Joko Anwar (who grew up on genre fare spanning…

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REVIEW: The Act of Killing [2012]

“They proudly told us stories about what they did” Director Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Act of Killing can be described as nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s a one-of-a-kind document that gets into the mind of madmen with the blood of genocide on their hands by displaying their hubris, remorselessness, and cavalier attitudes firsthand. Oppenheimer doesn’t go down a laundry list of scholars, victims, or survivors for floating head commentary to set the stage or vilify evil—he lets the murderers themselves do it with their permission and moreover their satisfaction.…

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REVIEW: Serbuan maut [The Raid] [2012]

“And please, enjoy yourself” Like a musical’s plot finding itself mere rubber cement desperately trying to hold the song and dance numbers together—I know this is a broad generalization of a genre I do in fact enjoy—the story in Serbuan maut [The Raid] never attempts to overshadow the amazing stunt choreography let loose. I refuse to acknowledge the newly plastered on subtitle ‘Redemption’ since it is unnecessary superfluity and doesn’t even describe what occurs. Only one character can be redeemed—to say who would ruin its not-so-cleverly deceiving twist—and he refuses…

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