The Reel Review
After an ailing, retired Indonesian singer dies under mysterious circumstances, a poltergeist starts haunting her family inside their home located next to a cemetery. Ultimately, the oldest of the four children makes a startling discovery – that their mother had made a fertility pact with the devil – which has put all their lives in danger, in this horror/mystery on AMC+.
Despite an interesting enough premise, writer/director Joko Anwar relies a bit too heavily on hokey visual effects, jump scares and horror cliches in this very old-fashioned horror. And although it has elements of such classics as Poltergeist and Rosemary’s Baby, frankly, it’s more mildly unsettling than it is even remotely scary. But as more details about the Satanic fertility cult come to light, the more disturbing the story gets.
Despite some solid cinematography, the execution of the film is otherwise a bit flat and the ending definitely overstays its welcome. The film’s star, Tara Basro, gives a strong performance, which helps offset weaker performances by several other cast members. But the youngest of the siblings, M.Adhiyat, is one terrific screamer.
• After being terrified by the original 1982 film, director Joko Anwar lobbied Rapi Films hard to let him do a remake. This prequel is set in 1981, a year before the original movie was set.
• Satan’s Slaves was Indonesia’s highest grossing movie of 2017, seen by four million filmgoers.
• Satan’s Slaves was shot in just 18 days, in mostly chronological order.
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