The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder] - THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder] - THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC

the queen of black magic review
A trip to the orphanage where they were raised leads to a night of terror for three men and their families.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Kimo Stamboel

Starring: Ario Bayu, Hannah Al Rashid, Adhisty Zara, Ari Irham, Muzakki Ramdhan

the queen of black magic poster

In the past few years Indonesia has seen a resurgence in its genre movie scene. Western attention was initially brought to the nation by Welsh ex-pat filmmaker Gareth Evans, whose Raid films showcased the talent of the Indonesian film industry. Since then, and with the aid of horror streaming service Shudder, native Indonesian filmmakers have picked up the baton from Evans, with movies like Kimo Stamboel's Headshot and Joko Anwar's Impetigore finding a global audience.

Stamboel and Anwar combine as director and writer respectively for The Queen of Black Magic, a slick remake of Liliek Sudjio's 1981 camp horror of the same name. Long gone is the cheesiness of Indonesian horror movies of the 1980s, replaced by production values and special effects that rival anything to come out of the Blumhouse stable.

the queen of black magic review

The plot sees three men - Hanif (Ario Bayu), Anton (Tanta Ginting) and Jefri (Miller Khan) - return to the orphanage where they were raised upon hearing the man who looked after them, Mr Bandi (Yayu A.W. Unru), is on his deathbed. With their wives and kids in tow, they are greeted by Maman (Ade Firman Hakim) and Siti (Sheila Dara Aisha) the married couple who now run the orphanage, having been raised there themselves.

On the journey, Hanif ran over a deer (can we call a moratorium on this cliché?), but he later gets a bad feeling and returns to the site of the incident. There he finds a wounded young girl and - yikes! - a bus filled with dead kids. Of course, he can't get any cellphone coverage in the remote area, and when he returns to the orphanage - wouldn't you know it? - the landline has been cut off. As the night progresses, Hanif and co. find themselves trapped in the orphanage, and one by one they become possessed, Evil Dead style.

the queen of black magic review

Stamboel walks a tightrope between schlock and seriousness, but the two disparate tones never quite coalesce. The effects are highly impressive for a non-Hollywood production, but the gore sequences are as derivative as they come, with women coughing up centipedes and hacking away at their flesh while under the influence of some malignant force. In what is now an ironic touch, one hypochondriac character is mocked for wearing a face-mask, constantly sanitising her hands and fist-bumping instead of shaking hands.

The Queen of Black Magic runs for 100 minutes, but it feels considerably longer as it so often gets bogged down in plot details. It's a hackneyed plot about a wronged woman getting revenge from beyond the grave, but Stamboel and Anwar stretch it out to snapping point with a few too many scenes explaining the backstory. The movie is also overloaded with characters, making it difficult to keep track of who is currently possessed, and you might need a notebook and pen to keep track of the various names thrown about.

the queen of black magic review

If Stamboel and Anwar wish to demonstrate that they can compete with mainstream Hollywood despite their limited resources, then you have to take your hat off to them for producing such a polished film. But personally I'd happily take a more rough around the edges horror movie that demonstrated some personality over this glossy but rather soulless production.

The Queen of Black Magic
 is on Shudder from January 28th.

2021 movie reviews