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  • Writer's pictureKelly M. Hudson

The Raw Horror of Impetigore!

Maya (Tara Basro) is working her late-night shift at the highway toll booth when this creepy older man drives by, one she has been seeing frequently. He pays and drives through but stops and returns, asking her if she is from a certain small, rural village. She tells him no and he proceeds to call her by a different name. Alarmed, she calls for help. He returns seconds later and vows that he must kill her to free his village of a curse. The cops arrive and save Maya, but now she has to deal with a deeper mystery. She actually is from that village and has inherited a house there from parents she never knew. Along with her best friend, she travels to the village to unravel the mystery, only to find she has stepped into a very deadly and bloody trap. It seems that there really is a curse on the village, that all the children are born without skin and must be promptly put to death to avoid horrible suffering. And the villagers all blame this on Maya and her family.

Directed by Joko Anwar, who made the excellent Satan’s Slaves, Impetigore is a very fine Indonesian horror film that manages to do three things quite well: deliver the chills, deliver a delicious mystery, and still be bloody as hell. This is a longer film, and it takes it’s time to unwind and reveal where it’s going, but patience is paid off, and it’s not like the movie is actually slow. There’s a lot going on, with themes of family and familial curses, we see how the decisions of older generations affect not only the lives of their children, but the entire universe surrounding them. This is no joke; there are skinnings and raw, naked terror, interlaced with what is essentially a ghost story. Basro is great as the lead. She is vulnerable and lost and yet still tough and resilient, and Marissa Anita, who plays her best friend Dini, is the kind of pal everyone would want; she’s funny, cute, and of great support in trying times. Anwar’s direction is assured and his handling of a story filled with flashbacks and lots of exposition reveals an assured presence. At times this almost feels like a soap opera, but then more blood is spilt and we’re back on track.

Impetigore is a film about family, and about familial curses and how the decisions of our fathers and mothers directly affect our lives, all the while interweaving surreal chills with startling gore. This is not an easy film to watch but it is scary as hell in parts and stomach-churning in others. The suspense is A+ and the cinematography is terrifically strange. It will leave you skinless, naked and raw and is streaming exclusively on Shudder.


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