9 April 2019 | daryopeek
Decent but derivative
MatiAnak continues the torch of better Indonesian horror movies of this year. However, this directorial debut of Derby Romero should be watched with an understanding that besides packed with some great scenes, most of the movie only revolves on repeating the used formula of horror movies we know and love.
Set in the 1990s, a struggling orphanage Harapan Baroe should accept the sole survivor of a mysterious family murder, a boy named Andi. Reluctant to join with the kids, one of the caretakers, Ina, helps him to blend in until she realizes that strange things happened after he comes. When terror escalates, she must uncover what lies behind the murder or the orphanage may share the same fate as Andi's family.
I have to be honest that I do not find this movie stellar nor bad, it's watchable, probably because some gore scenes showed for a couple of times. The jumpscares also not excessive. I like how the movie wants to play with the atmosphere using drama sequences, and the effort of making that (with great 1990s aesthetics) should be appreciated, though the attempt has the downside.
My primary concern is the movie can't keep the atmosphere increases after each horror scenes. MatiAnak loves to use night-day sequences where nights scenes used as jumpscare, the day ones used as dramatic scenes. This formula is heavily on repeat, but each scene only for its own, and somehow can't make me more anxious/horrified when anticipating the next night scene. While the jumpscares aren't too useful, the drama scenes aren't great either. Most of the scenes adhered by music to make sure the audience know the context of the scene. It's obnoxious when after one second you have jumpscare, and then the next second you have playful music. I feel like watching a soap opera.
Cinta Laura, prolific for her accent, obviously tries to suppress it, but her makeup (light blonde and false eyelashes for a caretaker of struggling orphanage, really?) can't do justice. Her acting (and the rest of the cast) is so-so, I think it's because of how the script (or the director?) avoid difficult scenes. It's too short in some place but too long in another place. This style makes plotholes, you know. Until the twist and the ending, the movie seems so rushed (yeah, the twist revealed only in one scene, lol), yet so derivative, so that many things happened before seems not quite connected. The twist also doesn't have many moments, due to scarce hints and vagueness of the situation, so that we nearly don't have anything to know other than the jumpscares and the drama. A pity, I would like to say, since this movie can be directed into more mystery genre manner.
The most exciting thing I notice is that the ending is quite intense in my opinion, but I can't empathize them, even though the movie told their background for solid 90-ish minutes. It's a solid proof for me that you can have your imagined climax and ending, but you can't make it impactful if your buildups are weak. It's a good movie for a directorial debut. It shows potential and manages not to be crap, but I hope they would try another screenwriter if there is next. Oh, and with below average jumpscares (like Pengabdi Setan or Sebelum Iblis Menjemput) and also below average mystery, I am not sure what type of (horror) audience they are trying to get.