Well, I finally managed to grab a copy of “Kuntilanak 3” so I could wrap up this series. It came to DVD much quicker than I expected, and I lucked out snagging the Indonesian disc for it as well. This one is supposed to be the finale to the story, but one never knows….
After the major disappointment of the second film, this lil’ Catgirl has been fretting that this one would end up being just a big letdown, never explaining anything, leaving all sorts of loose plot elements to dangle in the breeze like forgotten laundry on a clothesline. But….. I really, really, really liked the first one, so I just had to give it a chance.
So lets see… the synopsis for this one reads as follows: “The story of the Kuntilanak curse continues as Samantha struggles to find meaning behind her strange powers. We join the story when a group of youngsters, Darwin (Mandala Shoji), Asti (Imelda Therinne), Herman (Reza Pahlevi) and Petra (Laura Antonietta) travel all the way to Ujung Sedo in their mission to track lost friends Stella (Laudya Cynthya Bella) and her fiancé. En route, they meet the cursed Samantha (Julie Estelle) and together they confront the evil Grandmother of the Mangkoedjiwo Clan in the haunted netherworld of Ujung Sedo. With the help of a little girl named Yenny (Cyndi Valerie), they suffer and battle to the bitter end.”
Will it save the Trilogy? Does Samantha finally lose “The Chant”? Will any of this make any sense by the end? Well…… don’t just sit there, “Read On”!!
The story is transported this time from Urban Jakarta and it’s environs to the deep mysterious jungles of East Java where the Kuntilanak seems to have fled after escaping from Samantha’s control at the conclusion of the second film. First off we meet Stella and her fiancé, celebrating their upcoming nuptials by doing a little “extreme sport” camping deep in uncharted rainforest. (Never… never a smart notion in one of these films. The jungles of Indonesia are just chock loaded with demon spirits and other nasty things…. don’t these folk watch their own movies? Hehehehe!!) They don’t even manage to last until the opening credits roll…. the Kuntilanak takes care of them but fast. It’s still running around in it’s dorky sun dress, but at least it’s gotten loads better at the sneaking thing. All in all it’s a nimble tree climbing …creature/ ghost/ demon/ thingee…. although the subtitles keep calling it a “banshee” this time out for some reason unknown to this lil’ Catgirl.
Then we get to meet the main protagonists. Darwin, Asti, Herman and Petra who are some sort of freelance safari/ explorer guides or something like that…. it’s never clearly explained. They sure do have all the gear though… Walkie Talkies and radios, enough camping gear to house a entire troop of Girl Scouts, BIIIIGGG ol’ knives and machetes, a land rover with camouflage netting, and even a bunch of back up guys with a snazzy ‘chopper to fly around doing aerial recon for them. Is it gonna help them in the least? Naw….. we ALL see that one coming.
So they find Samantha almost immediately… just hiking along by herself down the only jeep trail for like a thousand miles and naturally being the big wilderness experts they are, they just can’t leave her to fend for herself. No matter her attempts to get them to leave her alone. Dumb, dumb, dumb….. that’s gonna cost them.
These guys are searching for Stella and her fiancé because they feel responsible for having sent them out here in the first place. They can’t believe Sam has any business here in the wilderness, and at first, she’s reluctant to share her mission with them. Luckily, she’s a bit more animated then in “Kuntilanak 2”….but now she’s a fairly silent and brooding Sam, and she knows these idiots are gonna die…… worse, she also knows there very little she can do to stop it from happening.
“But…. Neko-chan, what about Sam’s Mom?” Yes… yes, were getting to that. If you read the last review, you remember the cliffhanger ending where the ghost of Sam’s mother shows up…..and gets the chance to say absolutely nothing before they rolled credits. Well… they didn’t forget about that, they just drop it in as a flashback here. Seems that it wasn’t actually her ghost….. Ummm, HUH? She’s here to tell Sam that her Mom is really the sister of the Matriarch of the Mangkoedjiwo Clan, and that that makes Sam herself the last in the line of women able to fulfill the ancient evil pact. But don’t worry…. even though she abandoned Sam to the creepy attentions of her father in film #1 to fake her death and hideout from the clan, it was all for the best. (Yeah… right.. heard that one before) Oh…. and if she travels to the lost village of Ujung Sedo, then she should be able to convince her evil Grandmother to remove the Chant once and for all….. Oh….and by the by, now she IS dead, and IS a ghost… sorry about that brief lie, Sam. Time to fade away to the Spirit World…. (WTF? C’mon Mom….make up your mind! You are confusing both Sam and the audience.) Yep… they start shoveling it really deep here. I almost got lost when the plot took this weird left handed turn. It gets even more confusing as we go along…. they almost rewrite the entire mythology set up about the Kuntilanak in the first film and try to turn it into some Demonic pact involving the spirit of a murdered woman and the Devil’s child. But we’ll get to that…… later.
First we’ve got some characters to kill off. That starts happening right after they find the secret cave to Ujung Sedo…. probably the one neat thing in the whole movie. It’s a hidden Spirit World, inaccessible to the Mortal Realm except through that cave…. (or through mirrors, I guess, if the first two movies still apply here at all… ) It’s a dream-like place not found on any map, a blank spot where communication devices don’t work and time proceeds in random order, day becoming night in the blink of an eye, or vice versa. The terrain is tangled and smothered in fog at times shifting it’s shape as easily as the Kuntilanak itself. This actually works… it gives the film an odd quality that I liked, a dark, evil, monster filled faeryland, but one that works for me.
Herman is the first to go, lured off into the jungle to die in quicksand….. Then Petra gets singled out and lured away by the ol’ “baby in distress” trick. Darwin gets cursed to “scratch” himself to a bloody end….. and Asti, well, lets just say “she gives the Kuntilanak a hand” and let it go at that…. makes you wonder why these guys even showed up since they don’t provide anything but a body count.
So then, does anybody make it out alive? More importantly, does Sam defeat Evil Grandma and end her curse? There is a final showdown…. but it’s short and unfulfilling. Remember little Yenny? Snatched away at the end of “Kuntilanak 2” and never seen again? Well… she’s back too and she’s got some little friends, other kids snatched away by the Kuntilanak and they need saving. That’s where Sam comes in…. but to do it she is given only the option of dying herself to end the curse. What a bummer…..
Ultimately this one ends up feeling “tacked on”. The sudden changes in folklore and obvious patches to the character back stories feel terribly forced. The setting is nice… all creepy and isolated, but I had hoped for so much more. Also.. despite the idea that Sam is dead at the end, they just couldn’t resist setting up a last second twist to allow yet another sequel, assuming this one made enough money I guess….. (please don’t let that happen….)
Sigh…. although this time out the overall film is a big improvement over the second movie, I’m afraid Neko can’t give “Kuntilanak 3” more than 3 “Meows” out of 5 with only a single purr for the weirdness of the haunted village of Ujung Sedo. It’s an OK film…. but not a great one and such a letdown from the original. Still, budget wise, and artistically, it’s at least a good film for an Indonesian one, and was worth my time and efforts to seek out.
There’s a Trailer, of course, to let you judge for yourself, and here it is!