Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by Joko Anwar.

Starring Tara Basro, Endy Arfian, Nasat Annuz.

Horror, Indonesia, 119 minutes.


Streaming on Shudder from 4th November


A smash hit in Indonesia, Joko Anwar’s remake/reboot of the 1980 film Satan’s Slaves gets its own sequel, the country’s first film to be filmed with IMAX cameras. Although a fitting format for a film that expands its scope in terms of story, setting and characters, western viewers will only be able to experience the film in the comfort of their own homes thanks to its streaming home on Shudder. Fans of the large format may not feel too shortchanged however as the film not only fails to capitalise on telling its story on a larger visual canvas but also trips itself up with a story that seems mostly unconnected to its predecessor.


Set in 1984, three years after the events of the first film we once again meet Rini and her younger brothers Toni and Bindi. Abandoning their country home after discovering the diabolical deal their deceased mother made with a devil worshipping cult, the siblings, along with their haunted and withdrawn father, now reside in a high-rise tower block situated outside Jakarta. Doing their best to forget the supernatural terrors that plagued them before, they soon find that their cursed history is ready to raise its head once again as a torrential storm threatens to flood the country around them and a certain supernatural presence starts making its presence known in the corridors outside their door.


Despite its success with its home audience the first film was one that could have benefitted from a tighter focus on its script. Relying on a twist that made little sense the story fell apart, especially with a closing scene that sets up the sequel. Frustratingly director and writer Joko Anwar repeats the exact same missteps here. Plot points are repeated once again, at seemingly exactly the same points in the running time of the first film including one certain character’s appearance in the nick of time and yet another mysterious final scene with two as yet unconnected characters setting up the next chapter. Up until then though there seems to be a real disconnect with the first film that leaves the viewer wandering as to when things will get on track again.


For all that Anwar gets wrong he nearly gets just as much right. While his skills as a script writer may lack focus in regard to plotting, his visual skills are much more notable. The setting of the high-rise tower block is impressive with its brutalist stylings and he manages to deliver at least one tense, anxiety inducing set piece located in a faulty elevator that pays off in a wickedly bloody fashion. The hints that he keeps dropping to the backstory that has been plaguing this particular family is however kept to the background so much and only partly revealed clumsily in an exposition dump towards the end that it weighs the film more towards the frustrating than the satisfying end of things.


With a climax that is filmed in a deliberately obscuring manner, with the action filmed in an extreme long shot that keeps flashing to black in a manner that is more distracting than effective, this sequel is a missed opportunity in righting its narrative shortcomings. With a third entry looking inevitable, particularly with its sequel bait ending, maybe Anwar will have developed his skills with story and plot by then in a more satisfying manner that will match his skills behind the camera.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans