How responsible are we for the circumstances of our birth? This deep philosophical query is the very heart of Shudder’s latest original movie Impetigore, written and directed by the incredibly talented Joko Anwar. He’s become a leading voice in Indonesian horror, and hopefully he has many more ideas to show us!
Discovering Our Roots
For someone who moved at an early age, it’s not at all uncommon to want to go back and see where we came from. Though usually this journey isn’t sparked by a madman who attempts to murder us at our place of employment.
Unfortunately for our main character Maya (Tara Basro), this is exactly what happens in a really tense opening scene that perfectly sets up the tone for this unpredictable supernatural thriller. After this traumatizing encounter, Maya starts looking back into her past, and decides to take a trip from the city to the village she was born.
Accompanying her is her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita), and together they go down a rabbit hole that involves family secrets, a cursed town, and a supernatural threat just as dangerous as the human one.
A common criticism that gets lobbed at horror films (particularly slow burn tension builds) is that they take too long for something to happen. Impetigore wastes absolutely no time, even opening up with the aforementioned attack scene at Maya’s work.
But it never feels cheap, nor does it really on jump scares. The supernatural element is a great source of mystery that keeps us interested, and the horror comes from the absolutely awful atrocities that people will commit because of that supernatural issue. It’s sadly true that many mainstream horror films are quite predictable, but Impetigore is anything but that.
There are several moments that seem to catch the audience off guard, but never feel like they’re coming out of left field. It all makes sense in the end, and even as people do horrible things to others, we kind of understand their reasoning and motive for doing so, even while completely condemning their actions.
All of this is rounded out by really strong and believable performances and some really beautifully cinematography. The village itself is set upon a vast expanse of wilderness, and really adds to a sense of isolation and dread.
Overall, Impetigore is one of the best Shudder originals of the year thus far. It’s really cool to see Shudder giving distribution to foreign horror films that we never would have heard of otherwise. Some are less memorable than others, but this one will definitely be haunting people’s dreams for a while!
Impetigore is streaming exclusively on Shudder
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