Joko Anwar has delivered some amazing films, like “Modus Anomali”, “The Forbidden Door” and “Satan’s Slaves”; obviously I was thrilled since I learned he was filming a new horror movie (after “Gundala”) and finally we got the release in this side of the world.
We have the amazing Tara Basro (Maya), as our lead actress and Marissa Anita (Dini) as the support one, both of them have previously worked with Anwar, in different films, “Gundala” being the last one.
Perempuan Tanah Jahanam aka Impetigore, tell us the story of two friends who are struggling with money, Maya finds out that probably her family was rich and there’s a huge house that both of them could use to live; she wants to claim the inheritance without knowing that probably this is the worst idea she could have had.
It starts like how Asian horror movies usually do (at least, ghostly ones)… a young woman working in the night shift as a cashier in a tollbooth in the middle of nowhere, talking nonsense with a friend, when a very creepy man keeps stalking her, subsequently attacking her; the guy is really really creepy, gives you an unease feeling, so kudos for that.
Obviously this odd person introduces us to what is gonna be the main storyline; family secrets and a world we know it’s out there but at the same time we don’t know it’s there.
Maya decides to go to the village where she was born, this is when we can see a change in the lighting and in the colour palette, from the previous extremely dark and gloomy… to a very alive but mysterious one.
In the beginning, the colour palette tells us how she and her friend, Dini, feel like they are trapped in a hole and that’s why they see this situation as a strong possibility to move on to a better life, with the only obstacle of being surrounded by secrets, mainly about Maya’s birth.
We keep getting changes in the lighting, the house and other houses, Anwar presents it to us all dark with only warm light, but instead of pure yellow, we have more red in it, telling us something bad is about to happen or that evil is close.
With the game of lights (that it really helps to set the mood), we have gorgeous cinematography; every time we feel a bit of hope, a yellow ray of light is smartly set in the middle of the frame, then the scenery quickly changes, giving us fog and with this, despair.
Not only we are visually rewarded, but the incidental music is enchanting, it helps to create a very atmospheric movie.
This slow-burn builds up nicely, but unfortunately, the climax doesn’t have the impact we are waiting for.
Feels more like a “family secret drama”, with a few curses and ghosts here and there, but nothing that can make you shudder.
What you are expecting to happen with Maya, it doesn’t, it goes to “Hollywood cliche land” and that broke my heart.
In a way, I feel a little disappointed, but overall it’s entertaining, it has some good visual impacts with a mix of practical effects and cgi.
I liked the ending and the whole little-village-full-of-beliefs-secrets-and-curses vibe; but, I was hoping, at least, for some more killings or something that screamed to me “this is a terrible curse”.
Hopefully, Anwar will surprise us with his next project.
Impetigore will premiere July 23 on Shudder (U.S., Canada and the UK).