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Review The Devil's Lair a.k.a. Pemukiman Setan (2024): Don't Breathe meets Evil Dead!

genre: action, fantasy, horror

The Devil's Lair is from the makers of Qodrat. Promotion wise, they seem to be emphasizing the action elements over the horror and fantasy ones. Perhaps in an attempt to have these productions distinguish themselves from the pure horror ones. While it is a welcome addition. I don't think this is prevalent enough to make the films more compelling. Actually, I would like to argue that in particular in this case it works against the film.

I got heavy, Don't Breathe meets Evil Dead vibes. I was like, great. Instead of having a blind but not so innocent man, get robbed, thieves are targeting a home that is believed to be empty. Of course, this is not the case. They are met with forces that they are hardly prepared for. One could argue whether their reason to steal is a good one. It's clearly shown that all the thieves are immensely desperate. And to show some good faith, they have planned to not be greedy and only steal what they need. While their logic is flawed, I can to a certain degree understand where they are coming from. Thing is law and justice doesn't care about such logic and will condemn you as if you were intending to steal everything, then why not steal everything? Fortunately, for them, they don't have to deal with the law. Well, they do have to fight a demon instead, which obviously is worse.

Now, this would make it seem I had some sympathy for the main characters. I had in the beginning yes. Then you see these characters make mistake after mistake. I was shouting at the screen for acting so dumb. But strangely enough, they never listened. There is one cool cat, Urip,  in the film who stole the show. I was very happy that he was in it, otherwise I might not have been able to endure the antics of the other characters. He is played by T. Rifnu Wikana. He slaps some sense into them. If you ask me, they should have ditched the other ones and have him as a lead. 

What I found a little problematic is the fact that they didn't lean into the horror elements the way I wanted them too. Instead of upping the tension and dread, they went with the blood and gore. In some scenes this was definitely effective. But the film was begging for some intensity. Adinda Thomas as Sukma certainly gave it her all to come across as a scary deadite. Kudos to her in that regard. If only they had backed her down by making her more dangerous and scarier. In some scenes they were so close. The push for Maudy Effrosina as Alin to be the super-duper demon fighter is questionable. If it weren't for Urip she already would have been dead. Apart from one action that came out of nowhere, there is nothing about her that makes her a girl boss. Had she stepped up her game because of what she had to go through and very organically had developed her demon fighting skills, then yes, of course I would have welcomed it.

Very likely, a sequel is planned. And one I am willing to check out as long as they improve upon this part. For now, it's decent enough. You won't will like it's a waste of time.*

*The end credits show ©2024. So I assume that 2024 is the year of the official release.

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