What The Fest!? Movie Review: SATAN’S SLAVES (2017)

A retro remake of the 1980 film of the same name, SATAN’S SLAVES takes you down a chilling path of the undead while inducing potent terror throughout the film’s duration. Director Joko Anwar sets out to shake you to the core through the use of dramatic lighting, ghostly scenery and lively scare sequences. While only seeing the original once, I have to say that this remake stands strongly on its own and creates a unique atmosphere that lives up to its predecessor in a modern, yet nostalgic way.

Falling ill to a mysterious sickness, former famous singer Mawarni Suwono (Ayu Laksmi) lays bed-ridden in her family’s old house in Jakarta, Indonesia. Now out of money and struggling to make ends meet, daughter Rini (Tara Basro) along with her brother, husband, and sons do the best they can to provide for the family. After Mawarni’s strange and eerie passing, things take a turn for the worst for the entire family as deceased Mawarni appears back from the grave to collect her family members.

As someone who doesn’t scare easily anymore while watching horror movies, SATAN’S SLAVES is the first in (at least) a year that actually set me back and gave me chills. Not only is it made incredibly well, it is genuinely effective in giving you a good and proper scare. It feels real and not over the top, allowing the fear to flow naturally from scene to audience. Almost every set and location used in the film provides such a natural sense of fear, allowing you to get completely enveloped into the plot and paranormal happenings. The cemetery alone is enough to catch your attention and appears captivatingly beautiful as well as terrifying.

This is a film that’s tonally appealing, as the cinematography is hauntingly perfect and really captures the essence the director was going for. The retro atmosphere created for this film houses a vintage overall setting, depicting old radios and furniture. This look really adds an element of nostalgia and fear, making for a scarier mood. Some of the characters themselves add to this ambiance, with the mother being especially eerie, with her behavior and facial expressions being enough to chill you to the core. There are definitely a few scenes that made me jump back, which is always refreshing to experience in newer horror films.

SATAN’S SLAVES will definitely please genre fans on multiple levels and won’t disappoint – from its retro appliances and atmosphere, to its eerie score and effective scare tactics. This movie was a pleasant surprise, and a worthy remake that induces a numerous array of feelings both subtle and prevalent.

Abigail Braman
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