Whew…….well I’ve fallen a wee bit behind in my attempts to do a review a day, but worry not…here we go again. This time it’s a truly nifty lil’ chiller from Indonesia, one of a number of excellent discs I’ve managed to score from overseas in the last week or so…and “Oh boy!!”
“Kuntilanak” was a big surprise…. a truly wonderful film that I liked a whole lot. I had expected a simple genre exercise in more “Long Haired Ghosts”….. with only a modest plot and effects, but this one was a big, big scary surprise…. and something truly different and uniquely Indonesian.
Firstly… the disc itself was completely subtitled into English…. film, trailer, and even the half hour long “Making Of” feature. That’s something I don’t often get even from Korean or Japanese discs….. big thumbs up from this lil’ kitten!
The film itself was letter-boxed, and the subs were actually understandably written, not the usual weird translations I’m used to seeing. A great thing considering this was a $9.95 US disc….. I don’t usually get THAT lucky with $27-$45 US discs from Korea or Japan…. or anywhere for that matter.
So…. what’s this one about? Why has your favorite Catgirl Princess gone all nutty for a practically unknown Indonesian horror film? (At least in North America, anyway……and I’m guessing it’s a well kept secret most anywhere outside of Indonesia itself…)
Why, to find out, you’ll just have to read on….. silly people!
So…. lets get to it…… This one is about a girl named Samantha, (played by Indonesian actress Julie Estelle), who has moved from her home to a creepy rooming house alongside a weird cemetery in Jakarta. Seems her mom died recently leaving her all alone at home with dad, who was fond of his pretty young daughter in that ever so repugnant fashion that is best left to the imagination….. Brrrrrr!
She’s got a boyfriend of course named Agung (played by Evan Saunders), but things are a bit frosty on that front…. seems she resents him for not being there for her when things got tough at home. So where’s a young college girl to go when she’s short on cash and in need of some new digs? Why the cheap, rundown boarding house that used to be dormitory for a Batik factory once owned by a clan know to be Satanists who’s connections with evil allowed them to profit until the mysterious fire that destroyed the factory and killed them all….. and then there’s the cemetery. Creepy…. deserted…. and complete with it’s own haunted tree…. wherein lives the mysterious creature known to Indonesian folklore as the Kuntilanak.
Naturally, the destruction of the Cult of Satanists wasn’t complete… their last Matriarch still lives. And she still knows the ancient mystic Chant which can call up the Albino monster of the Tree to do her bidding….. But….
Apparently the Chant is a fickle thing. It seems to pick and choose those who are truly worthy to use it. No matter if they want to or not…… and unfortunately it chooses Samantha as the new heir to it’s curse. Bummer…….
You see, the demon lives in some mystical spirit world completely unable to interact with the Mortal plane…… unless there is a doorway for it to use…. like four antique mirrors once owned by the secret Cult. Naturally, it starts getting all evil with those at the apartment who rub poor Samantha the wrong way…. first they tick her off… then the Chant takes control… next our heroine starts puking up worms and all hell breaks loose for the bastard who set her off.
Even the deaths are just plain different. No dismemberment… no eating people… the Kuntilanak likes to sneak up on you and twist your head around backwards. No kidding…. just like all those Nazi guards in the old war movies. The thing likes to laugh too… But the cool thing is, if it sounds like it’s right behind you you’re actually safe. For some goofy metaphysical reason, the further away it sounds, the closer it actually is. If you can’t even hear it at all, then watch out!
Naturally Samantha never means to actually hurt anyone… but the Chant doesn’t care about such things…. It wipes out the mean hooker that lives down the hall who plays loud music all night. The big dork that pretends to be a medium to put his slimy moves on girls. Even the really cool girlfriend she makes at the house who looks at her boyfriend a lil’ toooo longingly. This is one busy and nasty ol’ Tree Demon……
Agung even falls on Samantha’s bad side over the whole matter of her not feeling she can truly trust and rely on him, so the monster puts the snatch on him too…. dragging him away to the closed off 2nd floor of the Boarding house where nobody is supposed to go…. it’s one of the rules of the house…. yeah, right.
The landlady works for the Matriarch of course. So it’s only a matter of time before the big climax to see who’s the biggest baddest Chant using-est girl in Jakarta. There’s gonna be only one lady standing at the end of that duel…… and we all know who’s a’ gonna win…..
This one is a simple story… but sometimes that’s a good thing. Especially when the folklore is just sooooo different that you sorta wish you had a program to know what the heck is going on. I was able to follow this one easily… and the acting and cinematography… the gloomy sets… and the really odd monsters were a breath of fresh air. I truly enjoyed ever minute of this one. The effects are good, with a few computer assisted ones thrown in as well, just to let you know the Indonesians are up to speed.
As films from Indonesia go…I’d say this one is an A+ effort. Neko-chan gives this one a well deserved 5 “Meows” out of 5. If you can find a copy, definitely grab it… it’s a corker!!
(Psssst! And I hear there’s a sequel that just came out. this year… gotta start “Googling” for THAT one!… Hehehehe!)
And of course to get you all as excited about Evil Tree Demons as me, here’s the Trailer….