Indonesian horror has suffered the ups and downs that all Asian horror goes through. These films can be very hit or miss in terms of quality and plot. The genre overall has been largely stifled by long dictatorships and various civil unrest and, like Malaysia, many horror movies did not make it through strict Islamic censors. However, the ones that did are always the movies that offer a strict moral lesson, which I am okay with. Though these moral lessons usually involved teaching the dangers of turning your back on religion, I'm slightly less okay with that, but to each their own. Regardless of the subtle or seriously obvious underlying message, Indonesia has a huge variety of great horror films, so many in fact, I would why they are not more popular.
Of course, these are only a handful of great Indonesian horror movies, so if they peek your interest why not go hunting out there for more. I have noticed that they seem to focus on slasher films more so than ghost stories.
Horror in Facebook
Okay, so this movie may not be the 'best' Indonesian horror movie, but I could not bear to leave it out simply because I am waiting for some western horror director to steal the plot because it is only a matter of time before there is a horror movie about Facebook. It is by no means a bad movie, though the plot is interesting enough to draw people in and it does not disappoint. The story follows Mira who is using Facebook from an internet café, however she forgot to log out before she leaves. A woman named Ferah comes along, gets into Mira's account and posts a bunch of messages as a prank. However, unlike the playful way we change our friends sexual interests to the opposite sex, this prank ends up with multiple deaths and a whole bunch of pissed off spirits. Kind of like the movie Kairo, but with Facebook and Indonesia.
Probably one of the best Indonesian horror films ever, Macabre follows a group friends who are on the way to the airport to see their two friends Adjie and Astrid off on their way to Sydney. however, on the way home, they pick up Maya, a very confused looking women who claims she has been robbed and has no way to get home. The friends take her home where they meet her family and decide for dinner. Bad luck for them, Maya and her family are a group of deranged psychopaths.
Macabre ends up being a lot like an eastern Texas Chainsaw Massacre, except with more Asian charm. by charm, I mean less hillbillies and more really terrifying psychopaths. Like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there is tons of gore and torture to go around for fans of the genre. It also at one point does have a chainsaw in it, so there's that.
Takut: Faces of Fear
Takut: Faces of Fear is actually a series of six different movies, however they are all so spectacular I figured why pick just one? If you are just introducing yourself to Indonesian horr, this is the series to watch as it shows off the talents of a number of Indonesian horror directors. The first film, title Show Unit is about a man who investigates an intruder in his house only for it to become a cat-and-mouse game of extortion and murder. The second is Titisan Naya in which a teenager discovers that her families ancestors are not just a distant memory during their traditional scared-kris cleansing ritual.
The third film Peeper is all about punishing a peeping tom backstage at an Wayang Orang dance. The fourth movie is The List is a classic story. Boy meets girl, boy dumps girl, girl uses dukun black magic to exact revenge. It is as old as Romeo and Juliet. The fifth is The Rescue is essentially a zombie flick in which special forces unit must lead survivors through a post-apocalyptic Jakarta past cannibalistic sub-humans to safety. Finally there is Dara which follows the extreme lengths in which a chef will go to in order to protect her recipe and feed her customers.
The Forbidden Door
The Forbidden Door is about a sculptor who is down on his luck. not only is his wife making his life miserable, but he has been discovering a variety of mysterious messages that seem to be strangely aimed at him in particular. He now must try to find out who is leaving these messages. I don't do the plot for this movie justice, I know. It is all around a great example of a horror film in any country. The tension in it is so unbearably unrelenting that it culminated perfectly in a few select scenes of true terror. Everything about this movie was just indescribably perfect; the direction, the performances, the script, are all just fantastic.
Nail Demon is actually billed as a horror movie and a comedy movie, so if things actually come off as more funny than terrifying that's normal. I wish someone had told me that though, I just thought it was bad horror at first. Nail Demon is about a group of corpse hunters who are looking for a creature that was released when a spike sealing it to the corpse was removed from its head. The creature takes the form of a beautiful woman and seduces a weak-willed man who was looking to get married. Just as the plan was about to succeed when the corpse hunter and the man's secretary (who is secretly in love with him) come to his aid!
If you are familiar with Malay folklore, you may recognize the word or at least find it similar to pontianak. While the pontianak is a female vampire, the kuntilanak is a type of female ghost in both Indonesian and Malay folklore. Anyway, after being molested by her stepfather, Samantha decides to move into a boarding house. The boarding house is said to be haunted by a kuntilanak who lives up in a tree that is hundreds of years old near by the house. Even though her boyfriend tried to warn her, she stays only to have people around her mysteriously and tragically die.