23rd Jul2019

Fantasia 2019: ‘Dreadout’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Caitlin Halderman, Jefri Nichol, Marsha Aruan, Ciccio Manassero, Susan Sameh, Irsyadillah, Cathy Natafitria Fakandi, Salvita Decorte | Written and Directed by Kimo Stamboel


What feels like a very long time ago now, I played this amazingly brilliant and actually creepy horror survival game on the Playstation 2 called Fatal Frame. It made you walk around in creepy old houses armed with just a camera. And I got the same vibes when I was watching Dreadout. So it came as no surprise when I learnt this movie was based on an Indonesian video game of the same name that is clearly heavily influenced by the Fatal Frame series of games.

In Dreadout a group of young adults enter a tower block that has been cordoned off by police, in the hope that filming their adventure will make their social media accounts more popular. The cameras on their phones becoming a much-needed asset, when they ‘accidentally’ open up a portal (in the form of a pool of water) to another mysterious and terrifying world. From this portal comes all sorts of terror and the camera phones will soon be the only way to not only see these things but help them survive from them.

One of my favourite things about Dreadout is that the filmmakers don’t seem to have left anything out. They have just gone all out with their ideas and created a movie that after thirty minutes you feel like you’re in the middle of something that you don’t completely understand and can’t get out of. I don’t mean this in a bad way. I looked at the time passed after half an hour because it felt like five minutes, the pace was a hundred miles an hour and somehow, it doesn’t let up for the full run time. The action is completely non-stop and I loved it. It was refreshing to watch a movie where the director wasn’t worried about giving their viewers a rest at some point.

Creepiness-wise, Dreadout conjures up a whole lot of cool imagery. The tower block is surprisingly impressive looking and the figures and creatures we see all look great. I loved the movement and ‘look’ of the face-covered zombie-like beings or the woman that had hundreds of small sharp teeth that filled her mouth – there’s some great ideas.

With the pace, scary monsters, characters using Carrie- like powers and a sense that anything could happen, Dreadout manages to create an a heart-pounding atmosphere but not necessarily in the usual scary way. Throw in the odd bit of gore – a very casual hand chopping was one of my favourite moments – and you have something that is wildly entertaining.

The only real disappointment with Dreadout was that it doesn’t really use its ‘gimmick’ to its full potential. With the camera phones, they are mainly just used to kill the spirits and enemies in a slow but frantic way as a character will continuously take photos with the flash seeming to do the damage. We have a few other moments where the camera is used to see the spirits but I thought these scenes could have been better used. I wanted a first person view from the camera more. I wanted tension as people struggle with the phones screensaver annoyingly coming on. I just would have liked a few more inventive ideas with camera use.

Dreadout jumps from one scene to the next, inside and outside, a ghost to a zombie, characters floating in mid-air and then struggling for breath in water and all in what feels like a blink of an eye. But it’s all the more exciting for it.

It’s wonderfully action-packed , crazy, actually scary and the type of movie that doesn’t get made enough. I wanna see numerous sequels with different enemies – give me vampires, werewolves, giant monsters and whatever else they could throw at me!

**** 4/5

Dreadout screened on Wednesday July 17th as part of the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival.


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