Everyone can agree that Indonesian horror films are on another level. Look no further than fan-favourites Kuntilanak (2018) and Suster Ngesot (2007), two films that have set the bar a little high for our local filmmakers to follow suit.
Some of the urban legends from Indonesia are similar to ours, making them even more relatable for Malaysian horror fans. Personally, what's so great about Indonesian horror movies is, the filmmakers don’t just produce a horror film for their audiences to scream or curse for two hours, but they inject emotions into the script. We can scream, curse and even laugh or cry at the same time.
The latest Indonesian horror flick, Pocong The Origin, is a good example. It is directed and written by Monty Tiwa, who also wrote the 2006 film Pocong that kicked off other Pocong films including Pocong 2 and Pocong Vs Kuntilanak. Take note that this one is neither a sequel nor a prequel, but a stand-alone film.
It revolves around Ananta (Surya Saputra), a death row inmate who wishes to be buried at his hometown, Cimacan, after his death sentence is executed. But he just won't die. The reason being, Ananta – a cold-blooded killer – is a practitioner of a black magic called Banaspati that allows him to be immortal. The only way he can be killed is if a family member ends his life.
After surviving two attempts, his only daughter, Sasthi (Nadya Arina) is forced to pull the trigger herself and put an end to her father's life. This is actually when the horror begins.
Sasthi takes her father's body and makes her way to Cimacan, accompanied by Yama (Samuel Rizal), a prison guard. The journey, however, is far from smooth. Along the way, Yama experiences many disturbances that in turn serve to spook the audiences. This is where the strength of Pocong The Origin lies - in the special effects, makeup, sound effects and the ghost itself.
But, it's disappointing that the titular ghost rarely appears on the big screen. I can count with one hand the number of times – other than Ananta’s dead body – we see Pocong in the film.
The classic Pocong hopping scene only happens once, which is ironic considering the fact that the director has produced a series of movies on this hopping ghost.
It's also quite a disappointment that Pocong The Origin is more focused on the Banaspati spirit, which is quite similar to a local spirit called "Saka", than the spirit mentioned in this movie title.
Well, at least the film does offer some sort of emotional weight courtesy of the daughter.
There is a scene where Sasthi is lying in a pool of blood next to her father, while singing her childhood song. This father-daughter moment could make you cry or give you chills, depending on how you look at it.
And in a point of view that's hardly brought up in films, Pocong The Origin showcases how Sasthi loves her father unconditionally despite being ridiculed all her life as a child of a killer. She even confronts Jayanti (Della Dartyan), a journalist who wants to seek revenge for her friend who was murdered by Ananta.
All in all, Pocong The Origin is a decent film with enough scares and some touching moments. But I just want to ask, where’s the Pocong?
Pocong The Origin
Director: Monty Tiwa
Cast: Nadya Arina, Samuel Rizal, Della Dartyan, Surya Saputra