Director Joko Anwar is perhaps the preeminent horror and thriller genre director in Indonesia (THE FORBIDDEN DOOR, MODUS ANOMALI). His latest is a remake of the 1980 cult hit PENGABDI SETAN — a cult classic among true horror film aficionados and has been compared to Don Coscarelli’s PHANTASM.
In Anwar’s version of SATAN’S SLAVES, his utility player, Tara Basro (a popular Indonesian ingenue) plays Rini, a young woman caring for her ailing mother, who is dying from a terminal illness. When she finally expires, grief sets in and the family mourns, but Rini tries to keep it all together and serves as the new matriarch for her family. But, strange things begin to happen, including sightings of the dead mother in random corners of the house, which ramp up into a series of terrifying moments, revealing a dark secret about the house and the history behind it.
What is unique about SATAN’S SLAVES, including the original cult classic, is a classic horror movie setting and story but instead of the usual Christian or Buddhist tropes in other Western and Asian horror films, Muslim traditions and settings supplant the religious undertones. In the end, Anwar succeeds in directing a new version that honors the original, but also updates it to be an examination of the modern political and religious climate of today’s Indonesia.
— Anderson Le
Synopsis written by: Anderson Le