Updated: Oct 12, 2018
Directed by: Joko Anwar Starring: Tara Basro, Dimas Aditya, Nasar Annuz, M. Adhiyat, Arswendi Nasution, Bront Palarae, Ayu Laksmi Grimmfest Film Festival Review by: Chris Olson
A remake of the seventies original, filmmaker Joko Anwar's Satan's Slaves is a hearty horror where familial bonds play an equal part against the terror trappings. The result is a far from faultless affair that offered plenty to offer fans at the 2018 Grimmfest Film Festival.
After a bedridden mother (Ayu Laksmi) passes away in the family home, her husband (Bront Palarae) and their kids embark on the process of grieving. However, spooky goings on start to plague the inhabitants that suggest the mother died with a dark secret that will now haunt this family.
Told with plenty of restraint and warmth, Satan's Slaves achieves that much sought-after balance between storytelling and horror gimmickry. The characters are portrayed almost lovingly, making the nightmarish disturbances which become increasingly evil all the more compelling to watch. The audience is immersed and assimilated almost as another member of this family, enduring their suffering in a cinematically connected way.
There are plenty of missteps to either forgive or embrace depending on your mood. The use of endless jump scares and fake build ups (I lost count of the number of times it's just another family member sneaking up on them) does get tiring, as does the shockingly banal sound design that pays way too much homage to the horror films of old. That being said, Anwar's use of these familiar tropes and techniques does allow the strength of the movie more room to breathe, which is the aforementioned warmth surrounding the characters.
Visually Satan's Slaves is terrific. Lots of intimate framing is used and the film is not afraid to deliver those all important money shots when it comes to showing anything vaguely demonic. A particularly fantastic sequence involving a motorcycle was a highlight.
Gripping, immersive, and at times wholesome, a worthy remake that brings the story to a new audience in a way that is perhaps a little too respectful of it's heritage.