25th Jan2021

‘The Queen of Black Magic’ Review (Shudder)

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Ario Bayu, Hannah Al Rashid, Adhisty Zara, Muzakki Ramdhan, Ari Irham, Ade Firman Hakim, Sheila Dara Aisha, Tanta Gintin, Miller Khan, Imelda Therinne | Written by Joko Anwar | Directed by Kimo Stamboel

I am slightly ashamed to admit that I haven’t seen many Indonesian horror films at all. It is something I need to rectify soon because I have heard good things about many films. So where better place to start than the new to Shudder movie The Queen of Black Magic.

With a slightly convoluted story, where we see past residents of an orphanage return to discover that someone is holding a grudge and now wants them dead. But it’s a movie that really doesn’t hold back when it comes to many elements of horror. None more so than gore. There’s a lot of it! It never feels over done or too much and it continuously impresses. Not just with its originality but also how every death scene feels different and every single one of them looks fantastic. Whether its a staple gun being used or skin is being peeled from a person’s body or insects appear from holes on a someone’s back or a character is decapitated, it all looks great! It’s a perfect blend of practical effects and CGI and horror fans will only be highly impressed.

It’s not just gore for gores sake though and each death or injury scene is accompanied by a brilliant score that ramps up the tension. Attacks or self injury doesn’t just come out of nowhere, it is built-up and keeps the viewer glued to the screen waiting for the moment to happen. Plenty of phobias are covered as well when it comes to the scares. Perhaps most effectively with ‘trypophobia’. Or ‘the aversion to the sight of irregular patterns clusters of small holes or bumps. That scene got to me more than other, really making my stomach turn.

But it wasn’t just that one scene that created a stomach-turning moment. This is an actually scary movie and that’s not something I say too often. But it manages to frighten again and again, even creating a new horror character that could rival Sadako from The Ring. I will only describe her as ‘broken leg woman’ but she will probably feature in your nightmares after watching this movie.

Full of really good performances and clearly made by people that love the genre. The Queen of Black Magic is an early contender for best horror movie of 2021. I can say no greater compliment than that it has made me go out and make a list of Indonesian horror movies I need to watch and has reminded me how great Asian horror can be. I used to be a huge fan of Asian horror and although I have recently seen a few great horror movies from this region of the world, I will be looking closer at movies from there this year. One of the scariest horror movies of the last ten years, If you haven’t got a Shudder subscription, then The Queen of Black Magic is a good reason to get one.

**** 4/5

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