Thursday, May 23

Satan’s Slaves: Communion

Satan's Slaves: Communion

Satan’s Slaves: Communion

When the heavy storm hits, it wasn’t the storm that a family should fear but the people and non-human entities who are out for them

Terror returns for the Suwono family in Satan’s Slaves: Communion. Four years after the incident that forced them to flee their home, Rini Suwono (Tara Basro) is living in an isolated apartment block in Jakarta with her father Bahri (Bront Palarae) and younger brothers Toni (Endy Arfian) and Bondi (Nasar Anuz). Shortly before the start of a terrible thunderstorm, there was a horrible elevator accident in the building, killing ten people. As the storm results in flooding and a blackout, something supernatural begins to torment the Suwono family and the other tenants left behind.

Satan’s Slaves: Communion is the sequel to writer/director Joko Anwar’s 2017 breakthrough horror film, a remake of the campy 1976 film Satan’s Slave. Anwar uses this sequel to extend the reach of the cult of the demonic entity of Raminom (Ayu Laksmi) beyond the central Suwono family. This world-building is evidenced through the film’s opening scene as journalist Budiman Syailendra (Egi Fedly) is called to an observation, where a group of corpses seem to have moved on their own and gathered in prayer in front of a photo of Raminom. This sets the stage for the film’s main plot, as Rini and her family discover that the cult controls the apartment block they live in and that the family are pawns in a sequence of events that play out during the night.

Aside from his side-project of creating an Indonesian superhero cinematic universe, Joko Anwar has firmly established himself as one of the masters of Indonesian folk horror, which apart from the original Satan’s Slaves, includes his episode of the HBO Asia series Folklore and his subsequent films Impetigore and The Queen of Black Magic, the latter of which he wrote and produced for fellow up-and-coming filmmaker Kimo Stamboel. Satan’s Slaves: Communion sees Joko Anwar return with a sequel to what I believe is one of the most terrifying horror films of the last five years. Despite the setting change from a rural house to an urban apartment block, Satan’s Slaves: Communion does not disappoint when delivering the scares.

Joko Anwar demonstrates his skills at generating suspense with Satan’s Slaves: Communion‘s inciting incident of a horrific elevator accident. It does not take long to figure out where this scene is heading, and the result is simultaneously satisfying and disturbing when it gets there. The accident sets the stage for much of the horror of Satan’s Slaves: Communion, as the victims are laid out in their apartments, as a traditional Indonesian vigil for the deceased. In one of the creepier scenes of the film, it becomes apparent that these corpses aren’t relatively stationary.

In addition to Rini and her brothers Toni and Bondi, Satan’s Slaves: Communion introduces us to some of the other tenants left behind in this suspiciously abandoned apartment block. This includes new neighbour Tari (Ratu Felisha), whom Toni develops a crush on, and Wisnu (Muzakki Ramdhan), a young boy orphaned in the elevator crash, whom Rini takes care of. Most of the new characters introduced in Satan’s Slaves: Communion are there to become victims of supernatural events, as Joko Anwar increases the level of gore in the film with some well-executed set pieces.

By the film’s end, it becomes apparent that Satan’s Slaves: Communion is the second chapter of what looks to be at least a trilogy. While not as terrifying as the original, Joko Anwar still brings on the scares, and I will most definitely look forward to the next film in the Satan’s Slaves universe.

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Trailer for Satan’s Slaves: Communion

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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