The Queen of Black Magic

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A family is tormented by a supernatural threat at a rural orphanage in . Hanif () travels with his wife Nadya () and children Dina (Adhisty Zara), Haqi (Muzakki Ramdhan), and Sandi (Ari Irham) to the orphanage where Hanif was raised as a kid by Mr. Bandi (Yayu A.W. Unru), who is currently bedridden. Hanif is greeted by his old friend Maman (Ade Firman Hakim) and his wife Siti (Sheila Dara Aisha) and they are soon joined by Anton (Tanta Ginting), Jefri (Miller Khan), and their wives Eva (Imelda Therinne) and Lina (Salvita Decorte). It soon becomes apparent that there is a malevolent supernatural presence at this orphanage, as something or someone uses powerful black magic to torment this group as vengeance for a horrible event from the past.

In a similar fashion to his acclaimed 2017 remake of Satan's Slaves, Indonesian horror master Joko Anwar writes this remake of the 1980 Indonesian film Ratu Ilmu Hitam, localized to English as The Queen of Black Magic, with the film being directed by fellow Indonesia rising star Kimo Stamboel (DreadoutHeadshot). The Queen of Black Magic kicks off with a family on their way to the rural orphanage, where the father Hanif was raised. The orphanage is surprisingly empty when the family arrives, with Hasbi (Giulio Parengkuan) and Rani (Shenina Cinnamon) being the only orphans not to leave on a bus trip. One by one, the visitors to the orphanage begin to experience horrific supernatural events, which seem to be connected to a horrific event from 25 years prior involving the orphanage's former caretaker Ms. Mirah (Ruth Marini).

Despite the fact that I was not really a fan of his 2019 video game adaptation Dreadout, for his second solo directorial effort, Kimo Stamboel takes Joko Anwar's screenplay and creates a very intense and horrific supernatural horror film. The supernatural presence results in the greatest fears of the visitors to this orphanage to manifest in extremely gory fashion, whether it being attacked from swarms of centipedes or the cutting off of flesh in front of a mirror. This all builds up to a completely insane climax, which includes some clear homages to The Evil Dead.

Even though his role in the film is only as the screenwriter, The Queen of Black Magic continues Joko Anwar's rise into being the undisputed master of Indonesian horror, complete with the fact that The Queen of Black Magic is not only a solid horror film but like Satan's Slaves before it, it helps to raise awareness of the 1980 original. While conversely Kimo Stamboel still has a lot to prove, his solid direction of Anwar's script makes him a name to keep an eye on.

The Queen of Black Magic is now available to stream on Shudder

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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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