25 October 2013 | lareview
Good story- Indonesian Horror -308 is worth the viewing
One of the highlights from Screamfest 2013 was a film from Indonesia called "308." Cleverly Directed by Jose Poernomo and written by Riheam Junianti. The story is based on a real Indonesian urban legend of Nyi Roro Kidul; the spirit of the Queen of the South Seas that for some reason lives in room 308 at the Sumudra Hotel. Apparently in real life the first president of Indonesia, Sukamo, decided room 308 at the Sumudra Beach Hotel was a great place to honor this mythical Queen.
Initially the film appears to be a simple haunted hotel story in the style of Stephen King's "The Shinning" but as the plot turns it is clear that 308 is not just a ghost story but a tale of betrayal, power, black magic and horror.
The picture opens with the very attractive lead character named Naya (played by Shandy Aulia) who is down on her luck looking for a job; apparently a Bachelor's Degree does not get you far in Indonesia unless you want to work in a hotel haunted by an angry spirit. Naya is taking care of her younger sister and it is unclear yet implied that her parents are deceased. When a friend calls Naya about a job opportunity in a hotel, with a forgotten college crush as her new boss, she jumps at the opportunity.
On Naya's first day on the job she is told to stay out of room 308, under all circumstances. Even when water appears to be dripping from the ceiling from room below 208 or strange sounds are heard from behind the door- she is banned from the room. Her new boss Sena (played by Denny Sumargo) is very pleased to have Naya take the job at the hotel and seems to still be enamored with her. Slowly all the characters are introduced. We are told that there is an outbreak of malaria in the town and for safety reasons the hotel is closed with a minimum staff as the building is sprayed down for protection. Now, with an isolated small group of workers, the story begins to take shape. The first hour of the film has a deliberate slow pace to set up the tension that follows but eventually the pace picks up as someone goes into room 308 and things get spooky.
Without giving away any important plot twists, what differentiates this story from other similar stories, like the Shinning, is that 308 tells the tale of a female spirit or deity that needs to be kept happy- in the sense that you would need to throw a virgin into a volcano. The rules of the movie are strange and unique; for instance anyone wearing the color green makes the apparition mad because that is her favorite color and when she possesses a body the skin rots and is full of maggots. The film must have taken all of the rules of Nyi Roro Kidul into account when creating this movie but that is what makes it so unique and memorable.
I liked this film. In my opinion foreign horror films have an advantage over their domestic counterparts because they bring a different culture to the story telling that makes the picture different from the masses of scary stories in theaters today. However part of the charm of "308" is that the director permits the culture of Indonesia to resonate throughout the movie. The film was the highest grossing horror movie of 2013 in Indonesia and is getting positive feedback from anyone that has seen the movie. I don't know if people will get a chance to see this film but if you are a fan of horror with a slight twist I recommend it.