Since their directorial debut Dara (2008), which precedes the extended length Rumah Dara a.k.a Macabre (2009), The Mo Brothers–Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto–never stop spilling blood. While making their gory trademarks with chainsaw and antlers, Timo has expanded their gory universe through Libido, a segment in The ABCs of Death (2012) and Safe Haven in V/H/S 2 marking his collaboration with The Raid’s Gareth Evans. Well, set your thoughts of The Mo Bros’ filmography aside before watching Killers, since this movie is completely in different league from its predecessors. Yet, being different doesn’t then imply that Killers is a subtle one… ’cause it’s not.
Killers is definitely a leap of Mo Bros directorial career–leaving their ‘slasher’ trademark and constructing a more complex psychological thriller. Mo Bros develops Killers to be more elegant and clod-blooded at once, yet, still it gives us constant eerie feeling in most of its duration. As a result, Killers really tortures us psichologically not only through the torture scenes but the drama as well.
Begun with a mind-torturing scene of a man tortures and kills a girl mercilessly, Killers is not going to leave the audiences stable. Bayu (Oka Antara), a journalist whose life crumbles as a result of confronting a corrupted officcial, finds videos on the internet showing Shuhei Nomura (Kazuki Kitamura), an Japanese avant-garde man turned sicko killer. Unconsciously, the deeper Bayu is attracted to the videos, the more he is attached to Nomura; while the killer inside him arouses. Regardless their completely different background and thousand miles that separate them, it’s the fate that eventually intertwines these two men and leads them to a life they’ve never imagined before.
As a psychological thriller, Killers is slow-paced but really well-constructed. The taglines “Inside Us, Lives A Killer” has told us that this movie is more than just a common thriller, since it constructs an in-depth character studies on wicked characters posing as killers. As audiences, we are lured to see what’s inside a serial killer’s mind through Nomura’s character and how someone could transform into a serial killer through Bayu’s character. The different motivation and state of emotions of both characters which are contrast but uniquely interconnected resulting in a dark, melancholy tone.
While the tone is completely dark, the cinematography goes beyond it. Suspense comes along the movement of the camera through gory scenes and a beyond-believe escape scene. Yet, the most beautiful of all if you take a deeper look is precisely the metaphor beyond the portrayal of Japan and Indonesia. A sunny, presentable look of Japan is contradictory to what portrays a burning, crowded Jakarta. If we look beyond this circumstances, we could compare it to both Nomura and Bayu’s life–Nomura’s is a more stable and well-constructed one with a more neat evil lies within like the portrayal of Japan, while Bayu’s is a more messed-up like how Jakarta is portrayed. Along with great scoring by Fajar Yuskemal and Aria Prayogi, the cinematography makes a great deal of art through this psiychological thriller.
The casts are simply incredible–especially Kazuki Kitamura and Oka Antara. Kazuki plays a rather typical character for him, yet, he really unleashes his true self here. Kazuki brings up Nomura’s blessing-and-curse life to particular level. Well, his performance has escalated Oka’s performance–that goes beyond himself and convincingly portrays the transformation of a man of family and honour to his descent–a self-loathing killer. Though Kazuki and Oka really become the show spotlight, I really appreciate how Luna Maya‘s portrayal of Dina, Bayu’s wife and Rin Takanashi (also starring A Palm D’Or contender Like Someone in Love), who portrays Hisae–a florist to whom Nomura is attracted, has put both male character at stake. Although those female characters don’t develop well, yet, there is blink of light on their acting brighter than just being some eye candies.
Despite of some plot holes and unbalanced portrayal, Killers really projects a decent show. As long as you don’t think some aftermath of on-screen circumstances (which looks like Mo Bros’ own universe), Killers really give you some mental tortures as it tortures you with drama and suspension. It might not be Mo Bros best achievement, yet, Killers becomes a real milestone for them; stepping out their comfort zone is difficult, yet, they’ve done good at least for Indonesian cinema.
TITLE: Killers (2014)
GENRE: Drama, Action, Psychological Thriller / DIRECTORS: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto / WRITERS: Takuji Ushiyama, Timo Tjahjanto / DoP: Gunnar Nimpuno / FILM EDITOR: Arifin Marphan Japri / MUSIC: Fajar Yuskemal, Aria Prayogi / CASTS: Oka Antara, Kazuki Kitamura, Luna Maya, Rin Takanashi, Ray Sahetapy, Epy Kusnandar