Yep……Neko’s got herself some more Indonesian DVD’s!! This time out it’s “Lawang Sewu: Dendam Kuntilanak” by director Arie Azis, who also did “Suster Ngesot” which I reviewed a while ago.
The Synopsis for this one reads: ” A group of teenagers decide to go to the town of Semarang to spend their school holidays. Little do they expect that when they arrive at the ruins of Lawang Sewu, that they will encounter a series of frightening events that will unravel each of their well-kept secrets.”
Does it measure up? Let’s see, shall we?
I had to do a bit of research on this one, apparently the title haunted building does exist…..the name Lawang Sewu translates as “Thousand Doors”, but among the locals the name refers to an eerie haunted house with a tragic history. This Dutch colonial building was built in 1863 as the branch office for the Dutch Indonesian train company but during the Japanese invasion of 1942, it was used as a gruesome interrogation headquarters where they jailed and killed a lot of Indonesians. Long standing reports of multiple ghost sightings in this building have turned it into a local destination for young students & tourists who would make their visit on weekend nights to experience this legendary haunted house.
There’s supposedly a headless ghost, as well as the spirit of some Dutch girl who hanged herself in the building lurking around with the countless others tortured and killed there…..sounds like we might just have a winner here……
Unfortunately this film is one of those that manages to rub this girl the wrong way. Basically, the story is all about the spirit of Rastri, a poor young woman who gets pregnant by one of those irresponsible types that enlists his friends to assault the girl, take nude photos of her unconscious beat up body, and then uses them to discredit her and ultimately drive her to suicide…..
Nothing is designed to get Mistress Neko any more angry than this particularly misogynistic bit of bigotry. I had to keep reminding myself that Indonesia is unfortunately one of those places in the world where both Islamic and Asian notions about victimizing women makes their predicament somehow all their own fault…….It made my blood boil to see even her father raise his hand against his own daughter for nothing more than insisting that the father of her child should stand up and take responsibility for his actions. In any other place, he’d have been the first guy in line hunting down the bastards that did this to her just to kill them himself……but apparently NOT in Indonesia.
I stayed with this one hoping at least that her ghost would get to rip into these people but good, evening up the scales a bit, and that the heroine Diska would bear witness to her vengeance to warn others about such similar stupidity…..but nope. Instead she actually tries to help the guy she wants to date, Yugo, escape from Rastri despite knowing what an utterly worthless rat bastard he is for gleefully helping his friends ruin poor Rastri’s life. Grrrrrrrr, Grrrrr, GRRRRRR!!!!!
Where are the “Leather Booties of Death” when I need them……..
This one…..all my own personal bile aside……IS actually very well filmed, if a bit formulaic at times, and the sets are suitably creepy and shadowy with all the right trappings designed to set a horror tone. Rastri and her big iron ankle ball are nifty…..lots of fun watching her drag it about on the hunt for revenge. It runs a bit long for the story that they have to tell, though…..at 95 minutes or round about…..I expected it to wrap up at about 80 minutes or so…..
(Deep cleansing breaths……Must find my “Happy Place”….) Before giving my rating, I have to say that I really, really LIKE Indonesian horror films……I truly do. I wouldn’t buy and watch so many if I didn’t….but even with an understanding that other cultures, other religions, and other peoples are different from me…..I have to say that certain attitudes are just plain wrong…..period. This film goes there and makes it look like it’s perfectly fine to treat people that way….
So….. Neko gives this film only 2 “Meows” out of 5…..with several bothersome “Grrrrrrrrs” at the way Rastri is treated both before as well as after her death….If they make a sequel, next time people at least let her kill all the cruel bastards before shutting her up in the well…..
I’ve always thought that my reviews were mostly intended for people thinking of trying out these lil’ films as a tasty introduction to another culture, to somebody without my admittedly “female westernized sensibilities” this might be more acceptable, but likely as not you wont enjoy it if you’re either a girl or a “westerner”. Sigh…..I guess I have to hope for better luck next time.
Anyway….here’s a Trailer, check it out and decide for yourself if it’s worth a watch……