Review: Danur, a book by singer, Risa Sarasvati (former Homogenic), about her psychic experience, is actually a sympathetic friendship tale about a girl and her ghost friends. I’ve listened to her album since 2010 and watched Sarasvati’s live performance where she told ghost stories about her songs; therefore, I knew how sympathetic the story is, despite being cliché-laden and light. It is never a horror story, yet, a story about companionship through and through, with some ghosts inside.
However, Awi Suryadi’s Danur, despite adapting Sarasvati’s book, takes a completely different route in presenting the story. Under Awi’s direction, Danur becomes a straight Insidious-esque horror story with major elements from the book stay intact. In fact, it’s a PG-friendly horror, which estranges it from the essence of Risa’s story.
Danur follows Risa (Indonesian hitmaking actress, Prilly Latuconsina) since she was a kid, who wish nothing on her eighth birthday but some companions. She actually got companions since then, three little ghastly kiddies, namely Peter, William and Janshen (this nomenclature is always a problem for me, even since the book; but, it makes sense with a subtext that it is little Risa who tried to write their name down with her limited knowledge yet). Yet, a harrowing event in her childhood makes Risa unable to see them again. Until one day, few years later, she returns to her childhood home along with her little sister to look after their grandma. An encounter with a peculiar nurse/housekeeper, Asih (Shareefa Danish), brings back the horror Risa used to live with; the horror she loves to hate; the horror she hates to love.
Judging from the plot, Danur should’ve been able to make the horror coexists with the friendship story with a sweet blend. Instead, this film tries too hard to look scary with cheap jump scares packed with full-frontal apparitions and over-loud noise. Instead of creating atmospheric horror and unsettling moments, Danur gives it up too easy. During the second act going to the third act, the horror scenes are amplified and intensified; like every minute, there are jump scares. Unfortunately, most of them feel cheap and often miss – blurring the real intention.
While the horror has flaws, camera work is a thing we should be thankful for. While there’s nothing inventive with the camera work, yet, the camera movement is able to deliver some jump scares, although most of them went predictably. Another thing to be beholden is Shareefa Danish’s all-horror performance; while not as compelling as in Rumah Dara, she emanates the harrowing sense.
After all, Danur does not live up major expectation. As a horror flick, it is a lame one (although it’s not a bad one, trust me); as a non-horror ghost story, it doesn’t grasp that essence at all. Unless you’re coming for Prilly Latuconsina becomes her typical character, Danur might disappoint you with layers of problematic ambitions.