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Fantasia 2018 Review: “Satan`s Slaves” (2017) ★★★★


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The evil is the only unbeatable foe for humanity; no matter how hard we try, it always keep coming back as an aggressive cancer. It never hesitates to take over the goodness we rely on so much and is bent on stopping anything that helps us to prosper.

“Satan’s Slaves”, made with the collaboration of Indonesian and South Korean cinema, follows a mother who’s a former famous singer now gravely ill for the last three years. Her family has no savings and every penny they earn is spent for her cure but to no avail. One day she dies in a very strange way. After her funeral, the family thinks now the mother is finally at peace so it’s time for them to move on. But there’s one little problem – the mother has her own plans and returns home to pick up her children. After all, if not alive then dead, but Satan will demand the debt to be paid which are her blood and flesh.

Rini is the eldest child who’s same as Tony, her brother, who works tirelessly to provide for the family. The father also does his best to keep the house from being seized by the bank and that’s why they leave the home after funeral to get some cash. This is when all four children, Rini, Tony, Ian and Bondi are left to go through the nightmare their dead mother begins causing. When grandma arrives, it feels there’s some hope in the house, but her early departure followed by another wicked accident seems to look like the beginning of a tradition for the family to bury relatives almost every single day.

As the story unfolds, it reveals some details from the parent’s past and how the mother got impregnated after asking Satan to give her children, not God, who she felt failed her in her multiple attempts. By joining Satan’s cult for fertility, the woman knew that by the time when her child reaches 7 years of age, the cult will come after its reward. However, each time when she gets pregnant, makes it difficult for the cult to fulfil their duty, until the day when the woman dies which makes Ian, the eldest son, to be a candidate for harvesting.

Director Joko Anwar creates a dark atmosphere for his film with some impressive photography, delivers the right mood so the viewer can get freaked out every time something scary happens in the film. The character development is solid as well, pretty much, leaving no question unanswered. Having said that, Anwar’s feature film can be easily called one of the best Indonesian horror films. The kind you will wish to have more of hitting international cinema and not just screened in the festival circuit.

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