My notes on DreadOut, which has screened at the Fantasia International Film Festival 2019.
An Indonesian horror film based on a computer game – and solid for its sub-genre, which is to say that it runs over very old ground at speed, boasts enough plot complications to hold the interest, and enjoys itself riffing on elements from franchises as disparate The Evil Dead and Jumanji without bothering to get too creative. Its one unusual frill is a reluctance to kill characters, though folks are put through an enormous amount of punishment – but that may be a holdover from the gameplay format. The film functions as a prequel to the game, so all the pieces have to be left in place at the end, albeit not all in the best shape. In a prologue, an exorcism-style ritual in an apartment is botched because a timid little girl won’t play her part. Then, years later, that girl has grown up to be high school age heroine Linda (Caitlin Halderman) and suppressed the memory. She is prevailed on by a bunch of wannabe youtube stars – one of whom has a snake tattoo and a sinister agenda – into returning to the now-abandoned apartment block to shoot a scary video. Of course, going beyond the police tape and reading handy rituals opens up a portal to elsewhere, and everyone gets sucked through into a foggy limboland where they can be possessed or persecuted. Written and directed by Kimo Stamboel (co-director of Macabre and Headshot), it’s entertaining, overwrought and weird – but not especially memorable. Demons, zombies, cackling witches, swirling portals, a lot of screaming and running, minor sanskrit lore, etc.
The Fantasia Film Festival listing.
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