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Review Ivanna (2022): Superb atmospheric horror!

genre: horror, mystery

Since the death of their father and mother, Ambar and Dika move to a nursing home owned by their parents' best friend and their son, Agus. There are three people in the nursing home of Masa Toea: Grandma Ani, Grandpa Farid, and Oma Ida. The three are taken care of by Rina, a nurse who is also Agus's girlfriend. Not long after Ambar and Dika's move, Oma Ida's grandson, Arthur, comes to celebrate Eid. Ambar, who has the ability to see mystical things, accidentally gets a vision from the past. 

The reason I put in this summary, is to remind myself of the premise and some details. (Note to myself. Try to write a review immediately after watching a film.) Amber played by Caitlin Halderman has limited vision and because of these is more in tune with the spiritual and supernatural. She is the key person to figure out about Ivanna van Dijk and what happened to her. We get the gist of it at the very start. But gradually you get to learn more. The film takes its time to get there, but I found that to be effective and rewarding. There is a slow but sure build-up of tension and dread. There are plenty of scary and creepy moments but of the subtle variety. Most of the time, you don't get warned by sound cues. And that is great, since this makes the scary moments more impactful. For example, you will notice things in the background, like a headless female ghost walking around. If you don't pay attention, you barely will notice. But when you do, you will get unnerved. 

At one point, the mystery takes a backseat (since most is revealed) and then the film becomes a full on slasher. The bloody and gory kind. In this case, it makes sense and therefore very welcome. Naturally, a lot of people in the film act stupid and irrational. And it's here where a lot of flaws come in play that could detract the previously superb atmospheric horror. In one of the reviews, it was stated that Ivanna was quite generic and predictable. One could argue about that. I myself do like to be surprised, but I also want to enjoy myself. 

Ivanna in that regard is a blast from start to finish. I honestly, don't understand the criticism of this film not standing out or being exceptional. Some films can do exactly that and still not deliver on the dread or the scares. At least Ivanna does that, and sometimes that is all I ask!

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