IMPETIGORE (2019) Reviews and overview

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Impetigore is a 2019 Indonesian horror feature film about a young woman who returns to her village, to claim an inheritance.

Written and directed by Joko Anwar (Gundala; Satan’s Slaves; Ritual), Perempuan Tanah Jahanam (original title: “Woman of the Cursed Land”) stars Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, Marissa Anita and Christine Hakim.

Maya (Tara Basro) tries to survive in a city without a family. Only her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita) who is always with her to improve their life.

Maya learns that she may inherit property from her rich family in the village. With Dini, Maya returns to the village, unaware of the danger waiting for her…

” …for those who choose to stay in step with the story after overlooking a few questionably convenient conceits, Impetigore packs in plenty of satanic shocks to complement its exploration of terrifying tone. It’s a movie whose punctuations of action match the macabre mood, creating and sustaining teeth-clenching suspense. Joko Anwar has some edges to trim in terms of taking storytelling shortcuts and tacking too many minutes onto a movie.” Culture Crypt

“Even though I very much enjoyed myself during Impetigore, and found Anwar’s blending of various motifs and thematic elements to be highly entertaining, I will fully admit that the film does have a few issues, especially towards the latter half when the narrative feels a bit too hectic for its own good.” Daily Dead

“A little bit of gore, a little bit of character. Then again, I found all the good moments were offset by goofy special effects (exhibit 1: really obvious CGI blood), bland characters, silly villains, and stupid in-story decision-making for the sake of fitting in with all the other B-horror flicks.” Film Snob Reviews

“Though Anwar can write a thrillingly twisty run of dialogue, Impetigore tends to run off the rails when it comes to plotting. It’s one revelation after another, to the point that they start to become comical rather than horrific. There are times when he seems to be going for a more playful tone, but it’s not quite obvious enough if so.” Goomba Stomp Sordid Cinema

“By delving deep into the root cause of a series of cataclysmic events in the movie, Perempuan Tanah Jahanam makes a very compelling argument about the evils of abused power and the danger it presents. Joko Anwar cleverly intertwines Nyi Misni and her backstory with Maya and her struggle, building a fascinating portrait of two different generations.” The Jakarta Post

“Like Satan’s Slaves, Impetigore also bears comparison to Aster’s Hereditary. It has all of the extreme emotional anguish and Saptadi’s eerie shadow puppets parallel the use of scale miniatures in Aster’s breakout hit. Every aspect of the film strengthens the unnerving atmosphere, especially Ical Tanjung’s darkly mysterious cinematography. Very highly recommended…” J.B. Spins

“The acting is quite great especially from the main lead Tara Basro, the writing is also really strong with some very haunting moments that actually quite disturbed me at times. The direction of this movie was spot on and really hit all the notes on making an effective horror film, it’s definitely a movie to check out…” Jerome1994

“The cinematography is beautifully unsettling, the atmosphere is consistently tense from the get-go, even as it plays with our expectations. On more than one occasion a jump scare is lined up, framed through lingering shots that get ever closer to some part of Maya’s inherited sprawling but decrepit house, and there is no payoff. This is no fault in the film, but rather a tool Anwar and his team deploy to let us know our expectations on how we think the story will go have no comfortable place here.” Killer Horror Critic

” …Anwar’s script conjures a curse for his characters that is mostly confusing, weakening the movie’s threat of terror in a setting that fails to be as scary, even with its multitude of child graves or the sinister presence of village master Ki Saptadi (Ario Bayu). Not even indulgent bouts of skinless bodies can save Impetigore from being the dull mess it reveals itself to be.”

“Nearly an hour passes before the central conflicts make themselves known, with the film spending a lot of time building atmosphere, certainly more than necessary. Then, once things start to ramp up, a huge chunk of the actual story is somewhat clumsily dumped in a last-minute flashback that might’ve been much more effective if it’d been delivered in pieces along the way.” Screen Anarchy

“It is a fascinating concoction of macabre motivations and horrifying heritage, but one that we barely have time to follow, let alone be unsettled or scared by. For all the deficiencies of the story’s exposition, Basro once again shows she is a compelling and hugely watchable scream queen; her carefree, city-girl banter with Anita is effortless and natural.” South China Morning Post

“There are ghosts, gore, and, most unusual for an Indonesian film, a bit of sex and nudity. With its overt shocks and much faster pace, the second half of the film is the opposite of the first. Much of it centres around an impressively shot torchlight hunt […] Joko Anwar is one of the best directors working in horror today. Impetigore may not be his best work, but it’s still better than most of what’s out there.” Voices from the Balcony

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Released in Indonesia on 17th October 2019 and Malaysia on 31st October 2019. Shown at the Sundance Film Festival in February 2020. Released on Shudder on July 23rd 2020.

Cast and characters:

Tara Basro … Maya
Ario Bayu … Ki Saptadi
Marissa Anita … Dini
Christine Hakim … Nyi Misni
Asmara Abigail … Ratih
Kiki Narendra … Bambang
Zidni Hakim … Ki Donowongso
Faradina Mufti … Nyai Shinta
Abdurrahman Arif … Nano
Mian Tiara … Siti
Aghniny Haque … Laras
Muhammad Abe Baasyin … Suryo
Ahmad Ramadhan … Tino
Eka Nusa Pertiwi … Tiwi
Ical Tanjung … Police

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