Kimo Stamboel’s Dreadout wastes no time giving its audience what it came for—pure demonic chaos. Previously known for genre films such as Macabre, Headshot, and Killers, Stamboel’s latest is a different kind of animal entirely. Demons fly through the air, people travel to other dimensions, and body parts are twisted and torn from their owners. It’s a nonstop adrenaline rush–almost to a fault.
What sets this film apart from Stamboel’s previous works is the fact that this project, which is an adaptation of a popular survival horror video game of the same name, is that frequent collaborator Timo Tjahjanto (The Night Comes for Us, May the Devil Take You) is not by his side on this one. The duo, which makes up the popular directorial team known as The Mo Brothers, seems to be taking some time to explore opportunities on their own. So far, the results seem to be varied.
What essentially starts off as a millennial-infused remake of The Evil Dead quickly finds its own footing after a group of students decides to livestream a night in the city’s most notorious location. As you might imagine, that decision (along with a few other boneheaded decisions) lands them in hot water. Before you know it, an ancient scroll is read and a portal to another dimension is opened. It’s a radical concept—one that most filmmakers wouldn’t dare attempt in 2019—but Dreadout never quite lives up to its potential.
I’m the last person to complain about an abundance of action, but Stamboel struggles to diversify his approach for the onscreen carnage—often retreading scenarios and action sequences. That doesn’t make them any less visually spectacular, but I found myself longing for a more varied approach. Luckily, solid performances from the primary cast, impressive VFX work, and concept alone propel this into something worth adding to your watchlist. Video game adaptations rarely live up to their source material, and Dreadout is no different. But at least it’s entertaining.
Truth is, these kind of movies don’t really get made anymore, and there’s something special about seeing one on the big screen again. Dreadout is an easy recommend for those looking for a modern spin on a classic demon tale, but don’t expect a ton of answers or context. Watch it loud and with a crowd if possible. This one is all about the experience, not necessarily the content.
Dreadout screened at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival. A wide U.S. release has not yet been announced.
Fantasia 2019: ‘Dreadout’ is Pure Demonic Chaos from Start to Finish [Review]