November has slipped by and December is finally here, but I’m still squeezing in the odd movie review here and there in this busy Holiday season. This time out, another Indonesian horror effort, “Taring” by director Rizal Mantovani of “Kuntilanak” fame.
So, have I got a synopsis? Yep… and it goes sorta like this: “Farah (Fahrani Empel) is a lingerie model and is working for an agency called Heaven’s Secret. One day she receives a work offer with the theme “Wild Fantasy” for photo session in Werenggini, a forest that is located in near a remote village. She gladly receives the offer as she desperately needs the money for medical treatment for her sick mother.
Together she heads to the forest with two friends and fellow models; Wiwid (Shinta Bachir) and Gabriella (Rebecca Reidjman) for the photo session. Following them are Alex (Meidian Maladi), the reprensentative from the agency, together with photographer, Iyan (Dallas Pratama) and his sister Inngrid (Reynavenska).
Upon their arrival at the entrance of Werenggini Forest, the local residents advise them not to enter as the mythical “forest keepers”, who are evil by nature, are seeking sacrifices in human lives. However, the stubborn Alex insists on proceeding with the photo session inside the dark forest despite the warnings.
When dusk falls each members of the group begin to disappear mysteriously from the remote forest, their lives being taken by the “forest keepers”. What is to be the ultimate fate for Farah and her friends? Will any of them survive the night and escape from Werenggini Forest alive in the end?”
Oooohh!! Forest Demons!! Neko’s all over this one! Hopefully Rizal will score well for me this time out, although he’s gonna have to work at it pretty hard to equal the creepy enjoyment “Kuntilanak” brought this lil’ Catgirl. So break out the wine coolers and settle in and your Favorite Catgirl Movie Princess is gonna tell you all the gory details!!
Seems this time out I get an honest to goodness monster movie from the good folks in Indonesia…. After what seems like an avalanche of ghost stories featuring a seemingly endless parade of poor dead wronged women seeking revenge from beyond the grave, the prospect of having an actual monster film is just too appealing for me to pass up. Mind you… the Trailer lets you know the other reason for this film… the chance to see sexy Indonesian girls get almost naked….. Sigh…. But Neko’s still hoped that the monster would be worth it. (Not that you Gentle Readers here at the Litterbox probably mind seeing sexy asian girls gone wild…. You naughty, naughty guys!!)
Our film starts out at a wild industry pool party… all decadent and wild and definitely the sort of thing to make the Indonesian Censor board have fits. Here we get to meet Alex and Iyan, a couple of old friends in the business as they discuss Alex’s new photo promotion for “Heaven’s Secret”… a lingerie line suspiciously reminiscent of a certain other famous lingerie company… Hehehehe. He’s decided that nothing will sell panties and bras like having a bevy of sexy ladies wearing them while romping about the jungle with those special “come hither” looks that promise so much more than just the possibility of buying yourself some well-fitting comfortable undies…. He wants his old buddy Iyan to photograph the shoot, and he’s managed to get the three sexiest models around to participate…. including Iyan’s ex, Farah. Ummm? That ought to be a problem, right?
Actually…. no. Seems this possible romantic plot thread is pretty much a bust…. as we never find out why Iyan and Farah broke up in the first place, and neither of them makes much of an effort to mend the relationship anywhere in our story. So… why include it? Darned if I know…. Instead, our story really doesn’t want to stray much from the standard “folks go to the forbidden forest and get killed one by one by the freaky monster” plot that was a staple of many a genre offering back in the glory days of monster movies. In many ways, it’s not toooo far away from the plot of the Hindi film “Agyaat”, which Neko reviewed a while back. Except that the Hindi film was much more suspensefully done overall.
“But what about the monster Neko? Huh, huh? Is the monster at least cool and scary?” Yes, yes… at least we’ve got that going for us here. The “Forest Keepers”…. now they are pretty nifty monsters. Looking like some sort of crazy naked old ladies with fangs and talons, they sneak around the haunted Werenggini Jungle killing just about everybody dumb enough to go in there. Oh…. and they like to eat your entrails….. soooo gross, but soooo neat too!! Neko thought at first there was only one of them… but by the end of the movie you figure out that there are a whole bunch of these hungry things lurking in the woods. Think a bunch of fashion models and photographers stand a chance against them? Better think again.
Nobody is safe…. not the odd gay camera assistant, not Iyan’s cute and angelic little sister Inngrid, and not any of the others either. There is a survivor… well at least until just before the end credits roll…. but Neko’s not gonna ruin it for you by telling you who it is. Basically… the last half of the film showcases the grisly… and gory (even by Indonesian standards) deaths of our little group at the hands of the Forest Keepers. Certain prerequisite exploitative elements happen along the way…. scumbag Alex tries to cheat on his model girlfriend Wiwid with worldly Gabriella, giving us our usual risqué sexual subplot. Cute lil’ Inngrid tries to play cupid for her big brother and mend the relationship he had with Farah (although it’s confined to one scene of gentle prodding to get Iyan and her talking… and fails to actually accomplish anything). The Forest Keepers themselves though…. now they have some interestingly different folklore features.
For one… they seem to be unable to grab you unless you first actually look at them… even if they are right behind you breathing down your neck. Ooooh!!! And if they wanna chase you, they flip upside down and run backwards like some crazy crab… soooo dumb looking, but sooo cool too! They’ve got mystical powers too… and they can mess with your head to make you lose your way in the forest, running around in circles till they decide to snatch you but good. Ahhhh… and they can control the plants of the jungle… making vines and creepers grab and hold you too. But…. they don’t like bright light. Just like good ol’ Dracula, it seems to burn them to crispy critter done-ness. Thank goodness… our heroes need something on their side.
So, are overall how did this one go down? Hmmmm? It definitely wasn’t as good as I’d hoped for. In general, “Taring” ends up being a fairly forgettable lil’ exercise in monster movie making that wasn’t completely terrible, but which could have been so darn much better if it didn’t feel like it was churned out as a quick “direct to video” moneymaker. The missing romantic subplot is actually jarring…. and without i,t the film seems to be missing scenes. More character development could have helped out a bit too… as most of the characters seem very empty and cardboard at best. Given these flaws, Neko can only give “Taring” 3 “Meows” out of 5…. and that’s mostly for the monsters that are actually too good for a movie like this. The DVD is good, being Region Free and PAL wide-screen formatted with excellent English subtitles. Price wise as always, it’s a bargain if you can find it at 6-10$ us, but unless either Indonesian horror or the chance to watch sexy Indonesian girls in lingerie is your thing, you might not want to waste a lot of time looking for a copy. Ah well…. maybe next time out.
Trailer? Certainly, o’ Gentle Visitor…. and here it goes… enjoy!!