Monday, February 26, 2018

Movie Review: Pengabdi Setan (2017)

Pengabdi Setan (2017): After dying from a strange illness that she suffered for 3 years, a mother returns home to pick up her children.

My rating: 4/5 stars (★)

Pengabdi Setan, or also known as Satan’s Slave as its English title, is the latest horror film directed by Joko Anwar. It is a remake of a film with the same title, Pengabdi Setan (1980). I have not watched the original film, but the new film managed to appeal to me as a horror enthusiast. Released at the end of September in Indonesia, it gained attention of many and said to be a great work by most of the audience.

Pengabdi Setan tells about a family of seven, living in distress because of the ill mother. The four siblings live under the care of their old grandmother and hardworking father, doing their best to survive the poverty. When the mother dies, their hopes of the mother resting peacefully and them leading a better life crushed when horrific events start to unfold inside the very house they grew up in.

Unlike the original film, Pengabdi Setan (2017) is said to have a different number of characters and main themes. Originally only consisting of two siblings (Rita and Tomi), Joko Anwar’s version of the film added two younger siblings, making them to become four (Rini, Tony, Bondi and Ian). Rini, portrayed by Tara Basro, is a responsible eldest sister that cares a lot about the wellbeing of her family. Tony, the second child, is played by Endy Arfian. In contrast to his sister for always being skeptical towards the satanic cult, Tony openly accepts that something sinister is going on inside their house after the death of their mother, Mawarni, who is played by Ayu Laksmi.

Bront Palarae, a Malaysian actor, took the role as Bapak (Father). His character seems cold, but in reality, he is very caring towards his family. Bondi (Nasar Annuz) and Ian (M. Adhiyat) are the younger siblings, often seen playing together. Ian’s character is mute, making his character very endearing. Elly D. Luthan plays the character of Nenek (Grandmother). Even though her character is rather sickly and only sits on a wheelchair, the character plays an important role towards the end. The tight-knit family managed to portray a great family bond, and it is one of the greatest qualities shown in the film, despite the frightful events being thrown into their direction.

Other than the bond of family, Pengabdi Setan (2017) also focuses on the issue of neglecting religion. When Ibu (Mother) died, she is buried in the Islamic way. But when the Ustad (Arswendi Nasution) that helps with the burial of Ibu, Bapak reveals that even though the family professes the religion of Islam, they do not pray. The Ustad says nothing more, but it proves that one of the reasons the family are disturbed by the sinister events is due to their ignorance on religion. The way the family is raised seems to be following the lifestyle of the western people, which I think is a good point because that is exactly what is happening in reality. Many have started to neglect religion in order to fit in with the current trend.

The story is definitely well-directed. Seeing the trailer at first, I have expected to be served with a clichéd storyline, but I am more than glad to say there is more than it is deemed to be. The suspense managed to bring me to the edge of my seat, and the twist at the end was satisfying. I am still at shock as to what happened to one of the siblings, I wish all of them can stay together until the end with their father. Despite my appreciation towards the well-directed plot and cast, there are several scenes that I dislike too. For instance, when the dead bodies started attacking the household, I almost cringed out loud. It was a little bit too much, making it seemed like a zombie movie instead of a ghost and demonic one. The scene where Ustad was attacked looked ridiculous too, as if the scriptwriter just want him to be out of the way.

On a scale from zero to five, I would give this film a four because I feel like it has enough “juice” of being a great horror film, with twists that you do not see coming, especially if you have not watched the original version. I definitely recommend Pengabdi Setan (2017) to all horror film enthusiasts, particularly if you enjoy the Asian ones. The ending still leaves me confused, but I am sure it will contribute well to the sequel of the film that is being talked about and planned to be filmed or released sometime next year. I am absolutely signing up for the sequel!

P.S: This review was written on 09/12/2017 for a subject in uni.

Till next time ♡ Love, Maira

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