Joko Anwar’s Pengabdi Setan 2: Communion reviewed

Joko Anwar’s Pengabdi Setan 2: Communion reviewed

The highly anticipated sequel to the wildly popular Pengabdi Setan from Indonesian director Joko Anwar falls short in many ways

JOKO Anwar is without question one of the finest directors working in Southeast Asia today. He first came to prominence with Joni’s Promise in 2005. The movie won many local and regional awards and remains a crowd-favorite to this day, immediately establishing him as a force to be reckoned with.

Since then, his career has only skyrocketed, turning in wildly successful and critically acclaimed movies, like Dead Time: Kala, A Copy of My Mind, Impetigore and Gundala. He went on to direct Pengabdi Setan (Satan’s Slaves), a loose prequel remake to the 1980 movie of the same name. It shattered box-office records and cemented his status internationally, with him often being compared to American director Jordan Peele, who operates in similar genres.

Given these considerations, my expectations walking in were high, especially from a director so assured of his craft. But the movie fails in all its elements – from its narrative structure to the visual language and aesthetics, performances, and music. Anwar, who wrote the film, sacrificed all the ingredients that made the first movie special, and instead replaced it with cheap artifice in favor of earning a few more scares.

These plot devices, the jump scares, mostly work, and if that was all you are looking for, then you will get your money’s worth. However, the traps Anwar lays out for his characters can be spotted a mile away and seemed so predictable that the movie unwittingly traipses into camp territory.

Pengabdi Setan 2: Communion opens with a journalist being brought to the site of a cult, where dead bodies have been exhumed and neatly arranged in a hall. The journalist was warned that the Indonesian government had no interest in investigating due to the sensitive nature of the crime, and he was given the mandate by the detective in charge to spread the word on what occurred.

A time jump takes place, and we learn that Rini (Tara Basro) and her family, after losing their mother and youngest brother, has decided to move to a new home, an apartment located on low land near the coast. They live with their father, played by Bront Palarae, who spends most of his time away from home, working a ‘mysterious’ job no one knows about.

After an elevator accident and the arrival of the monsoon, residents are trapped in the building. Stuck in a desolate landscape, removed from society and resources, the residents shut in for the night. What follows is a series of events so loosely tied together it barely makes any sense, and if I were watching this on a streaming platform, I would have switched channels.

The residents are put through hell – and the dead rises. Characters died. None of which we have sympathy for to begin with given the meandering roles they occupy within the story.

A majority of the climax unravels under the cover of darkness, with lightning flashes and lamps as the only sources of light. Couple this with an inane amount of shaky-cam action ala Jason Bourne, and all you leave with is a terrible migraine.

Tara Basro and Bront Palarae are given so little to work with that their performances fall flat, despite playing the roles of father and daughter. No sense of urgency, threat or menace they endure evokes concern. None of the traumas they experienced as a family from years prior are addressed, a storytelling goldmine that was completely missed or ignored. While the first movie might have been a labor of love for Joko Anwar, this movie felt so deeply impersonal that it might as well have been made by someone else.

source – The Vibes

Share This


Wordpress (0)
Disqus (0 )