As a child, writer/director Joko Anwar was terrified by the Indonesian horror film, Satan’s Slave. Once he became an established filmmaker, he began to lobby production company Rapi Films to remake the story with himself at the helm. I’ve admittedly never seen the original film. But after seeing Anwar’s chilling retelling, I can only assume that he did it better. Much, much better. Satan’s Slaves forges its own path and secures its place in horror history by delivering a truly horrifying experience.
The story is a relatively simple one. A family struggles to make ends meet after a mother dies of an unexplained illness. After the funeral, strange occurrences begin to happen in the home, and what starts as a traditional haunted house film crescendos into a sort of satanic mayhem that is sure to shock its audience–regardless of what language they speak.
The stunning work of cinematographer Ical Tanjung immediately sets the table for a quality experience. The opening credits sequence alone is enough to impress. And even when the tone decides to embrace a strange (but still awesome) 70s aesthetic, there’s no denying that every shot is masterfully crafted. Tanjung and Anwar make an incredible team. Luckily, that same care and focus is extended to the film’s cast–which is primarily comprised of children. While the sheer number of leads can be a bit overwhelming at first, they’re all fantastic and I’m confident that future audiences will appreciate their efforts as much as I did.
What really sets Satan’s Slaves apart; however, are its relentless attempts to terrorize its viewers. Ten minutes rarely pass without a setup or scare, and far more often than not, they’re effective–one of which will stick with me for good. Anwar utilizes every trick in the book to extract fear at every turn. Visual FX aren’t called upon often, but they’re excellent almost every time they make an appearance. I’m not sure how he managed to develop characters in the middle of it all, but i’ll be damned if he doesn’t pull it off.
Satan’s Slaves shattered records in Indonesia with its theatrical release, and it’s easy to understand why. There are bound to be people that miss this one due to avoiding subtitles–just know they’re missing one of the most satisfying Horror films of the year by doing so.
Satan’s Slaves screened at the 2018 Cinapocalypse in Chicago, IL. No US release date has been announced. We’ll absolutely keep you updated.
‘Satan’s Slaves’ is a Modern Classic [Cinapocalypse 2018 Review]