Friday, June 29, 2012

Macabre (2009)

The horror cinema of Indonesia is probably one of the most imaginative and surreal parts of the movie industry. Both India and Thailand is getting close, but Indonesia is unique. Since many years deeply rooted in local traditions and legends and with tons of very goofy, spectacular, violent and cheap horror experiences, from Suzzanna and Barry Prima to modern cheese-cinema like the works of Rizal Mantovani (Taring and Jenglot Pantai Selatan). Macabre is based on Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto's Dara, a short movie who also became a part of the anthology movie Takut: Faces of Fear (produced by Brian Yuzna), as usual under their combined name "The Mo Brothers". Macabre is very different from most other Indonesian horror movies I've seen because it ventures a dark and more serious territory, on the surface inspired by American slasher cinema - but with a visual style and violent punch from the French neo-gore cinema of later years.

A young newlywed couple, Adjie and Astrid, together with three friends, decides to go on a roadtrip and leave big city Jakarta for a while. As the evening comes a heavy rain starts and they nearly hits a young woman, Maya, who stands in the road. She's been robbed and as the nice folks they are they drive her home...where Dara awaits them. She's is the strict, stiff and unemotional mother of Maya, like a female robo-replica from the fifties - and it won't last long until our heroes understands that's something is terribly wrong and they all are in danger.. but then, of course, it's way too late!

Don't shy away from this movie just because the familiar set-up. This is a superior movie in every way possible compared to it's American modern counterparts. Macabre actually dares to have interesting and sympathetic characters, which hurts even more when they're killed and with a family of psychos that's so much more scary because of their lack of emotions. Except the basic concept  I never thought of American slashers when I saw the movie, instead I saw modern French horror movies. The atmospheric lighting, the stylish sets, the unpredictable characters. Even if not much explanations is given there's several really interesting clues that adds to a back story that I hope will be more examined in a sequel. It's also connects back to vintage Indonesian genre cinema, with the root to all evil based in the Dutch colonizers of Indonesia.

Shareefa Daanish is a new Suzzanna and the character of Dara is already a favourite of mine. Her original performance, with a deep slow voice, robot-like movements and shark eyes is stunning and scary, and fucking freaky. She owns the movie, even if her whole "family" is great in their own perverted, psycho way. I could watch Shareefa kick ass all day long and I sincerely hope she will play Dara at last once more, because she's so good at it.

If you want gore, blood and random graphic violence you've come to the right place. Macabre is a very bloody movie without being Schnaas-boring or cutting away to fast like most American "graphic" horror movies. This is French stuff, and if you've seen Inside, Martyrs, Frontier(s) etc you know what I mean. The effects is a mix between CG and practical stuff and most of it works very good. But the magic lies in the actors and the editing who helps every murder scene to be more painful than it really could have been with lesser talented people involved.

Macabre is a violent and nasty horror movie with the same quality as the French classics and with a stylish and modern twist on Indonesian horror cinema. It's a welcome addition to my collection and I think most of you would appreciate it. It's available uncut from the UK, so go get it before Dara gets you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Her original performance, with a deep slow voice, robot-like movements and shark eyes is stunning and scary, and fucking freaky."

In trailer she looks very spooky.

"This is French stuff, and if you've seen Inside,"

Yeah...I wasn´t that impressed with it but it had lots of gore.

I haven´t seen Macabre yet...thanks for tip Ninja.