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Review Satan's Slaves a.k.a. Pengabdi Setan (2017): Full of atmosphere and creepiness!

genre: mystery, horror

For some reason I have forgotten to write the reviews for Satan's Slaves and it's sequel. Especially since I really liked them although I prefer Satan's Slaves. So here are my thoughts.

The film does a good job of keeping you in the dark about most events. Granted, I think they could have gotten to a certain point sooner. Then again, I think the misdirection is intentional. A large part is centered around the death of Mother (Ayu Lakshmi). It wasn't entirely clear to me what her disease was but it prevented her from being able to speak. At times it looked like she was trying to warn the children but at times she looked like she wanted to harm them. The ambivilence is also intended and actually helps to set the mood. It builds up a form of tension and dread that never lets up but writer / director Joko Anwar makes sure he doesn't go over the top. A lot of events are suprisingly subtle to such extent that you could dismiss them as not having happened for real.

The setting itself and one specific element also help to add to the dark atmosphere. Since the family aren't practicing Muslims it is heavily implied that this is the reason why they are subjected to the terror of the demons. In the same vein they do in films dealing with exorcism where only a Catholic priest can deal with the evil. It's therefore pretty cathartic or even bold to see that the ustad (a qualified Islamitic scholar) also gets attacked. It's not to put down the faith but to point out that the evil that is at play doesn't care what religion you are. This makes things arguably scarier. I wished the name of this evil wasn't mentioned in the title but like in most films concerning him, he is a force that is present but not one that can be seen.

Where the film truly shines is the twist. Granted, on a very critical note. This twist does make it seem that Joke Anwar basically has mashed different story elements together and formed them into one. But strangely enough it's higly effective. And perhaps even more scarier since this aspect is quite topical. Plenty of unhinged people out there. Overall, Satan's Slaves is full of atmosphere, creepiness and a pretty good (but simple) story that delivers. So definitely, worth your time if you love horror films.

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Anonymous said...

Good recommendation, thank you. I had fun watching this one.

chrichtonsworld.com said...

Happy to read you liked it also!




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