The Queen of Black Magic is a 2019 Indonesian horror feature film about three families being terrorised by the titular entity.
Directed by Kimo Stamboel (DreadOut; Macabre; Takut: Faces of Fear) from a screenplay written by Joko Anwar (Impetigore; Satan’s Slaves), Ratu Ilmu Hitan (original title) stars Hannah Al Rashid, Ario Bayu, Adhisty Zara aka Zara JKT48 and Muzakki Ramdhan. The film re-uses the title of the 1981 Indonesian movie starring Suzzanna about a witch that took vengeance on her oppressors, however, the plot is different.
Hanif takes his wife Nadya and their three children to the orphanage where he was raised. The caretaker of the orphanage, Mr Bandi, is very old and seriously ill. Two of Hanif’s best friends from when they were living at the orphanage, Anton and Jefri, also came with their wives.
The families intend to spend the night to pay their respects to those who have cared for them since childhood. They thought it would be a peaceful night. They were wrong.
The guests have strange experiences. Some are terrorised by the things they fear the most. Meanwhile, the children begin to see a ghostly crippled woman. Victims began to fall, one by one from them. Either lost or dead. Someone wants them dead. She has a grudge. She was created by the sins of the orphans who formed her into the Queen of Black Magic!
” …as with Macabre, Stamboel has built up so much emotional weight that the explosion of mystical violence doesn’t feel like he tagged an FX reel onto a drama instead of a resolution. The meaner it gets, the more you care, and The Queen of Black Magic earns every twist of the knife.” The Austin Chronicle
“Queen of Black Magic is a visceral and vibrant horror experience. Kimo proves his worth as a director, Anwar continues to find fascinating cultural stories that translate well to international audiences, and the thematic slap of its ideas slither into the psyche in surprising ways. For fans of the recent boom of Indonesian horror, this is a must-see. For fans of horror in general, it’s also a must-see.” Blood Brothers
“The eponymous queen waits a long while to make her grand entrance, but it’s easy to forgive when she’s doling out such sadistic vengeance. The cast fully commits to every bizarre or grisly act asked of them, too. The Queen of Black Magic may not reinvent the wheel, but it does offer a ton of squeamish fun.” Bloody Disgusting
“The story falls off a bit, convoluting who is sympathetic and who to root for, but this is done in service of the scares which are effective enough to throw the rug over the mess […] This culminates in a disgusting display of terror that is mean to everyone who dares stumble into frame.” CG Magazine
“Even as it becomes a bit too twist heavy in its final third, the horrors are so intense and they come so fast, that any complaints about the plot are subsumed by how effective the horror is. The Queen of Black Magic lands among a class of horror films that certainly have their flaws, but are so adept at delivering genre thrills that the flaws become almost entirely irrelevant.” Cultured Vultures
“The story might be slow to develop, but when the film finally unleashes its horrific finale, it holds absolutely nothing back. Everything that has been teased and hinted at early in the film is unloaded on the audience with both barrels. It is here that the film really finds its footing.” Daily Dead
“Stamboel and Anwar, whether they tried to, offer up a horror film that takes on the abuses of powerful men while we’re in the midst of a few years of finally trying to hold powerful abusers accountable for their actions. To me, this isn’t coincidence. The Queen of Black Magic is powerful, and it bloodily depicts so many byproducts of patriarchal oppression with a full set of mighty sharp teeth.” Father Son Holy Gore
“Let’s just say Ratu Ilmu Hitam wins the Indonesian horror of the year just like Kafir did it last year for some reasons: good writing, near-perfect sound design, proportional jump scare (seriously, they’re in good places), no jokes, classy villain and… most importantly… it’s scary…” Jakarta Cinema Club
” …there are some really good ideas in this, and genuine, memorable scares, but it’s ultimately a tonal mess. The Queen of Black Magic may be a flawed film, but there is value here for horror fans; the imagery alone is worth making time for. Just don’t go in expecting a cohesive experience.” Killer Horror Critic
“I could easily spend a thousand words giddily running down the numerous incredible gore set-pieces […] but I’d rather leave you to discover the true joy of The Queen of Black Magic. While the film could perhaps stand to lose about 10 minutes of the up-front exposition, it’s not a terrible hindrance and does help flesh out the characters a bit so you care more when their flesh is ripped from their bones in the bonkers finale.” Screen Anarchy
“The bloodthirsty third act is what most viewers will be waiting for, and it rises to the gory occasion. The horror effects are slightly cheesy, but they’re still fun, gross, and disgusting. This is not a movie for the squeamish, and especially not for people who are afraid of insects. Ratu Ilmu Hitam (Queen of Black Magic) doesn’t shy away from dark elements in the story, and some of the subject matter could prove upsetting to many people.” Screen Zealots
“Not a film for the squeamish or the easily shocked, The Queen of Black Magic reflects back on Stamboel’s earlier films such as The Killers and Anwar’s Ritual. Dark, nasty, and very violent. It’s worth tracking down and seeing.” Voices from the Balcony
The Queen of Black Magic was released by Screenplay Films in Indonesian cinemas on 7th November 2019. The film will be available on Shudder on January 28th 2021.
Cast and characters:
Hannah Al Rashid … Nadia
Ario Bayu … Hanif
Adhisty Zara … (as Zara JKT48)
Ari Irham … Sandy
Miller Khan … Jefri
Salvita Decorte … Lina
Ade Firman Hakim
Sheila Dara Aisha … Siti
Ruth Marini … Suzzanna
MOVIES and MANIA rating: