Kuntilanak is another predictable movie to add to Netflix’s failed horror list.
Only a few weeks ago I grumbled at The 3rd Eye for its lack of imagination and new ideas for the horror genre. And here we are now, a couple of weeks later, with a new Netflix-labelled foreign film named Kuntilanak, which tries to embrace seen-before horror with some comedy angles; a weird hybrid of horror meets Home Alone. Netflix’s Kuntilanak suffers from the originality problem.
In case of interest, a Kuntilanak, also known as a Pontianak, is a female vampiric ghost in Malay mythology. In the film, one exists in a mirror in a haunted house and it preys on innocent children. At the start of the movie, a grieving neglected young boy is consumed by the mirror which is followed by the cries of his father who is devastated by the events. Written on paper, Kuntilanak sounds like an interesting time, but really it stagnates and instils boredom very early on.
The Indonesian horror movie swiftly moves on to four kids, who decide to explore this abandoned house that has been splashed over the news because of the disappearance of the young boy. A reality show has advertised a competition that challenges the public to prove the existence of the Kuntilanak. This plot point tries to drive some comedy into the horror, which falls sadly flat each time, as the horror tones are quickly followed up by poorly timed jolly music. Netflix’s Kuntilanak does not work at all. It’s easy to become fed up by the halfway mark. I was irritated.
The rest of the Netflix film drives home the usual horror tropes we have all become accustomed to. The performances are fine but the yearning for something new, or to be surprised, is overcome by the knowledge that you just want this movie to end. At one point one of the young children puts her hands on the static television for no significant reason at all but to add to Rizal Mantovani‘s checklist for creepy elements to add to the movie. What Kuntilanak needed is a reason to care about the children; the end objective was for them to survive and adhere to this reality contest, but the one kid we cared about was consumed by this evilness at the beginning; the other children may as well be props.
I apologise for my grumpiness but when you rely on Netflix to provide some genuine horror content and to be let down repeatedly, all I can do is sit back and repeat the same problems over and over again. Nobody cares about the predictable jumps, the staticky televisions, the creepy young girl and situational horror that a number of directors keep getting budgets for. Netflix’s Kuntilanak is another horror movie with wishful thinking that audiences will embrace it. The film was completely off the mark.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.