As an avid fan of Siswono Gautama Putra’s 1980 cult classic Pengabdi Setan (a.k.a. Satan’s Slave), Indonesia’s most versatile director Joko Anwar crafts a highly inventive yet highly respectful remake—a nightmarish love-letter to a nightmare—in his own version of Pengabdi Setan.
Mr. Anwar reinterprets the original phantasm, reconstructs the core elements and injects his cinematic virtue to create a déjà vu experience over his fresh concepts of nightmare. Some core elements from the 1980 film are reimagined to fit Anwar’s concept; a completely new backstories are added into the foray; but the whole terror remains there. Even, at some points, this remake appears to be more compelling and terrifying than the original. Continue reading Pengabdi Setan (2017): A phantasmal love-letter
Review: Gerbang Neraka a.k.a. Firegate (literally ‘Hell Gate’) combines an urban legend about Gunung Padang in West Java with sci-fi bravura and horror apparition into making a rare genre-bending Indonesian film. The film focuses on an excavation process of the allegedly oldest pyramid structure in the world (said to be older than Giza in Egypt and Mayan in Mexico), which lies underneath a mountain. Like in other ‘pyramid films’, the excavation was plagued from beginning to end, with body counts start to rise from day to day.
There came the film’s trinity: a young archeologist who believes in no supernatural power, Arni (Julie Estelle), a struggling heresy-laden tabloid reporter, Tomo (Reza Rahadian), and a celebrity ‘demon hunter’ Guntur Samudera (Dwi Sasono). Intertwined by their own ambition in regards to Gunung Padang pyramid, those three protagonists began to intersect each other’s life and unravel a hideous secret about the mega-structure. Continue reading Gerbang Neraka (2017): Genre-defying mess
Review: Warkop DKI Reborn: Jangkrik Boss! Part 2 picks up where Part 1 a.k.a. Indonesia blockbuster record-breaker left. After some short disastrous tenure with CHiPS, Dono (Abimana Aryasatya), Kasino (Vino G. Bastian) and Indro (Tora Sudiro) were gravely indebted; and the only way to pay the debt, they needed to find a hidden treasure. Along with Sophie (Hannah Al Rashid), they flight to Malaysia, the place where the treasure is allegedly hidden, only to accidentally swap their bag with a Malaysian researcher’s bag. There’s where Part 1 ended.
Part 2 revolves around the trio’s ludicrous treasure-hunt in a foreign country. With the assistance from Nadia (Nur Fazura), the researcher they stumbled into, Dono, Kasino and Indro wander into a haunted island where they encounter ‘the real story’ of Warkop DKI Reborn and get drowned in an adventure as bizarre and as absurd as in Part 1. Continue reading Warkop DKI Reborn: Jangkrik Boss! Part 2 (2017) – Review
Review: A: Aku, Benci & Cinta—an adaptation of Wulanfadi’s best-selling novel of the same title, attempts to match up high school romance with circumstantial comedy and many layers of conflict at one. To carry the plan, Rizki Balki’s film features Indonesia’s most prominent teenage actors ranging from Jefri Nichol, Amanda Rawles to Indah Permatasari.
In the core of A, Anggia (Permatasari), a boyish girl and school’s second most popular guy, is in deep feud with Alvaro (Nichol), school’s most notorious popular guy, who keeps annoying her with any possible mean. The more Anggia resents Alvaro, the more they become close to each other by one chance or two. As predictable as it might be, there’s actually some spark of affection between them, but it takes some time before that feeling blooms. Continue reading A: Aku, Benci & Cinta (2017): Far from straight A
Review: In Mars Met Venus: Part Cowo, a boy and a girl in a relationship is analogized as water and oil that naturally cannot mix. However, both can somehow blend into perfection if mixed with noodle, spices, broth, vegetables, and minced chicken meat and made into chicken noodle soup. Good news is that blend is delicious. That kind of parable—that kind of absurd, wacky jive—is what distances Part Cowo from Part Cewe.
Nataya Bagya’s script still over-heightens stereotypes about gender roles in relationship. Yet, Part Cowo is presented in a more devil-may-care and more independent fashion, provoking an unpredictable sentimental moments. While Part Cewe feels a little restricted in portraying its gleeful, saccharine-heavy endeavor, Part Cowo breaks the romance boundary and, as the chicken noodle soup, calls out more elements in adorning Kelvin and Mila’s (Ge Pamungkas and Pamela Bowie) relationship. Continue reading Mars Met Venus: Part Cowo (2017): A chicken noodle parable at best
Review: In an era where injecting traveling utopia and road trip has been a popular formula in Indonesian film industry, Naya Anindita’s Berangkat! pushes that trope into a whole different level. Her latest road trip feature thrusts the R-rated boundary into borderline absurdity. Weirdly, the sheer bedlam is quite enjoyable. Thanks to the magic mushroom.
While the magic mushroom wouldn’t appear on screen until an hour passing by, the effect has always been there from the beginning, from the introduction of the film’s main protagonists—Jano (Tara Budiman), Joana (Ayushita) and Dika (Ringgo Agus Rahman). Those three close chaps immediately engage in a road trip to Ijen before heading to Bali before encountering a Herbalove-addicted hippie, Gimbal (Tanta Ginting). Fueled by thick friendship, blind love, academic ambition, weird science (as in John Hughes’ Weird Science), and mechanophiliac fetish, the motley crues hit the road. Continue reading Berangkat! (2017): Thanks to the magic mushroom