‘Her laugh will be the last thing you’ll ever hear.’
Kuntilanak is a 2006 Indonesian supernatural horror film directed by Rizal Mantovani (Tembang Lingsir; The Uninvited; Wewe; et al) from a screenplay co-written with Ve Handojo. The movie stars Julie Estelle, Evan Sanders and Ratu Felisha.
The English title is “The Chanting”, although this is not a direct translation as a kuntilanak or pontianak is a type of ghost in Indonesian (and wider Malay) folklore.
The film was followed by two sequels, Kuntilanak 2 and Kuntilanak 3, setting up a trilogy with Mantovani returning as director. In 2018, the director rebooted the franchise, making the protagonists a group of children. This latest incarnation is currently available on Netflix.
Samantha “Sam” is an orphaned young woman who moves to an isolated boarding house in North Jakarta, trying to avoid the advances of her lecherous stepfather. The landlady of the house, Yanti, tells her that the second floor is locked up with no one allowed inside.
While listing other restrictions, including about a chair in front of a Javanese mirror in Sam’s room, Yanti chants durmo, a Javanese poem said to be able to summon Kuntilanak, a female ghost with half the body of a horse rumoured to be living in a weeping fig in front of the house….
“Many of the scenes with the kuntilanak were suspenseful, and there were plenty of frightening sequences to keep you happy (past the first 45 minutes, that is). The ending was a decent one, though not wholly unsurprising. Kuntilanak wasn’t an overly spectacular film, but it held up well given its deficits.” Beyond the Darkened Door
“The whole visual art of the movie adds to the spooky feeling and the haunted boardinghouse is nicely shot as well. The acting, while not stellar is above average […] The gore is low key and while not entirely original, Kuntilanak is one of the best Indonesian horror movie I’ve seen so far.” Daily Dose of Horror
“Kuntilanak is a very creepy movie with quite a few jump out of your seat moments and a soundtrack ‘Lingsir Wengi’. Each and every appearance by the Kuntilanak managed to raise some hair on the back of my skin.” Zainal A, Letterboxd
Cast and characters:
- Julie Estelle as Samantha – Macabre
- Evan Sanders as Agung
- Ratu Felisha as Dinda
- Alice Iskak as Raden Ayu Sri Sukmarahimi Mangkoedjiwo
- Lita Soewardi as Yanti
- Ibnu Jamil as Iwank