11 December 2008 | misonic-1
An interesting array of horror petit fours
I'm not really crazy about short movies, especially the ones displaying an array of types of a certain genre. A friend of mine took me to Faces of Fear, and looking at the poster I thought I was forced to watch some kind of 'scary movie for dummies' on a big screen. I mean: 6 stories, 7 directors, 1 scream: What is that, a tagline for a horror manual? I have to say that my skepticism mellowed after seeing these six stories. The animated introduction was pretty misleading though, as it gave me a middle-ages-vampire kind of vibe to the anthology. Then the first story starts and it could not be further away from the animation sphere as you land immediately in the scenery of an urban 'beau monde' housewarming party. It unfolds in a suspense drama of a man who's hiding a dark secret from his girlfriend and a cunning stranger who knows everything about this secret. An entertaining story, but not one that puts you on the tip of your scary seat.
The 'spirits' in the second story however does give you a bit of a startle. In 'titisan naya' A bored girl who shows more interest in her handsome cousin rather than her Javanese-family-weapon-cleansing ritual gets her 'lesson' from her long gone ancestors. Too bad this one had to be compressed into a short film because there were so many interesting elements and details (especially of the ritual) left unexplained.
There are two more stories that capture the Indonesian mysticism. In 'the peeper', a dangerously hot vixen who is also a Javanese dancer with a special interest in the human eye gets her grips on a sneaky peep freak janitor. Not so much scary, but Wiwied Gunawan puts down quite a show as the seductive exotic dancer-monster in disguise. Then there's 'the list', in which the performance of a dukun (the Indonesian version of a shaman) plays a main role in the game of vengeance between two ex lovers.
Gore and zombie aficionados get their turn with 'the rescue' and 'Dara'. Story-wise I think of 'the rescue' as the Indonesian short version of I am Legend and 28 days later. I'm afraid this story just passed me by quickly without leaving any further impressions. Perhaps this was meant to add some variation through action sequences in an otherwise mystically-laden anthology? Honestly, I wouldn't mind having to see a zombie filled village during a sacrifice ritual in one of the culturally rich areas of Indonesia. Perhaps that could turn out more scary or funny rather than this bland zombie story. Dara is slightly more interesting and that's mostly because of the stoic-sexy and evil man-eating chef performance by Shareefa Danish. She is hot, nasty and gross in this slaughter story and gives a whole new meaning to the word dinner-date.
So there you go, a blend of horror petit fours which is surprisingly in par with the more expensive Indonesian horror productions (think Jelangkung or the Pocong series). I would even say that this mini movie is better than the big budget ones because of its high level in potentially interesting stories. Let's hope they will highlight one soon for a real feature. One that really gets you screamin'.