Kuntilanak aka The Chanting (2006)

directed by rizal mantovani
mvp pictures

Basically the equivalent of the wave of American teen-idol horror flicks from the ’90s – except that it would have garnered a PG-13 rating – this Indonesian production features a 17-year-old female lead playing opposite an MTV VJ/pop singer. It’s a fairly typical ghost story, this time based on Malay folklore, involving a female entity whose spirit lives in a tree (in the cemetery next to the boarding house, natch) and is summoned into this world by the intonation of durma, a form of traditional Javanese song poem. In this particular case, the Kuntilanak enters our realm via antique mirrors. An occasional barely seen twitch might startle you, and the first couple times the ghastly spirit enters (or exits, I guess) from the mirror are pretty effective, but in the end, this picture is middling at best. It spawned two sequels, because of course it did, and a 2018 reboot – all from the same director, which may be a new world record.

why did i watch this movie?

I came across this title while reading up on cultural influences in the other Indonesian films I’ve watched recently, and figured I may as well take in another one.

should you watch this movie?

Plenty of others are better.

highlight and low point

The fact that the conduit for the dangerous spirit becomes its summoner through no fault of her own is a nice touch, and subtle comical moments here and there (and some not so subtle) help keep things grounded. Little tension is involved in the resolution of what should be a major conflict, however, and the not altogether surprising ending doesn’t carry quite enough weight, either.

rating from outer space: c−

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