Impetigore is a film that plays with culture to add to its suspense — great, atmospheric horror.
This review of Impetigore (Shudder) is spoiler-free.
Impetigore (Shudder) is an Indonesian horror from director Joko Anwar, starring Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, and Marissa Anita, that sees two friends trying to survive in a city without a family where one learns she might be inheriting a property, unaware of the danger it might possess them.
Impetigore starts with a bang when Maya (Basro) finds herself being attacked in her tollbooth in the big city, with the warning that “this is to free us from what your family did to us”. Maya is joined by Dini (Anita), her best friend, as they look to go in search of a mysterious hidden village, where inheritance could save the two girls from the struggles they have been facing in life. However, the village is cursed, and the leader, Ki Saptadi (Bayu), has been looking to overcome it, searching for a missing girl of the person they believe placed the curse on them in the first place. The two girls find themselves in the middle of a grieving village, where their presence could bring an end to the twisted curse placed on them.
Impetigore brings us a story that mixes the culture of Indonesia with the Western themes of horror, where we get the ghosts guiding Maya through her experience in the village, which will be about trying to understand the curse. This idea of tackling the curse shows us how people will become desperate to fix something which has control over them and nothing shows this more than the opening sequence. The environment plays a big factor in the story too, showing us a creepy atmospheric village that is filled with so much pain; add in the reality of two funerals in two days, and we know we have entered a painful location. When we learn the truth, we do get to experience the true horrors of what has happened in the village in a way that increases the horror level in the story.
Impetigore brings us a bright cast with Tara Basro as Maya showing the bubbly nature she has, smart thinking, while also ending up looking like a great final girl for the horror side of the film. Marissa Anita as Dini brings the laughs, reacting like most of us would during the incidents in the film. Ario Bayu brings the town leader Ki Saptadi to life, showing us how the village looks to him for advice, showing a calm confidence in his character through the whole film.
Impetigore uses the elements that have been so strong in cultural horror, be it The Ring, The Wailing, or Under the Shadow, all capturing the country’s beliefs in the horror; no different from diving into Indonesian beliefs to add to the suspense here. This is what we would like to see in the genre since it brings us something new to understand and appreciate what we are going to experience in film. Impetigore also uses a mystery, which does keep us guessing as to just what we will be trying to figure out about the curse, which gets explored through the movie.
Overall Impetigore is a great atmospheric horror that delivers the cultural horror in a way that we can get the scares, the shock, and the disturbing nature of the film with ease.