Let’s get creepy.

Pengabdi_Setan_poster

While Satan’s Slaves released in 2017, I marked it as a 2018 release due to it only being shown in festivals before then.

The film had a bit of buzz around it and I heard from several vlogs that it was one of the best horror films of 2018. So, how does it hold up?

The family unit works well. We follow four children as they grapple with their dying mother and distant father. The start of the film is great as we get to see each of the children dealing with a sick parent in their own way. Rini (Tara Basro) emerges as the leader of the group after father (Bront Palarae) seems increasingly disconnected. After the mother passes the father leaves for work and weird stuff starts happening around the house.

If you enjoyed The Conjuring, I think you’ll enjoy most of this film. The scares are set up nicely and we get a nice jolt of adrenaline when they happen. This is a good example of jump scares done well and with a point to the story. Unfortunately, they are still jump scares and won’t leave a lasting impact on the audience.

A lot of this film follows a one step forward and two steps back structure for me. Good characters but an overly convoluted plot wastes them. An excellent setting becomes somewhat tired by the end. Slow creep becomes over-the-top horror house stuff by the end. Perhaps worst of all is the oddly slapstick comedy that is forced into a couple scenes. Someone dies while trying to warn the family of something and their death is straight out of Looney Tunes.

The film is derivative. There is no denying that this is heavily influenced by cult horror films of the past. A lot of it is done quite well, so while it feels similar it is a good similar. Oddly, the love-letter to past horror aspects of this film make it work but will ultimately mire it in mediocrity. Nothing is terrible here, yet nothing is special. It feels like another satanic cult/house haunting film. You’ve probably seen it before.

Don’t get me wrong, the film is worth seeing for fans. However, I would be cautious about going into it thinking it is the best of the previous year. For me, this is balancing between okay and decent. You won’t regret watching it—certainly one to stream or rent.

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