24th Jul2020

‘Impetigore’ Review (Shudder)

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Tara Basro, Marissa Anita, Ario Bayu, Christine Hakim, Asmara Abigail, Kiki Narendra, Zidni Hakim, Faradina Mufti, Abdurrahman Arif, Muhammad Abe Baasyin, Mursiyanto, Ahmad Ramadhan | Written and Directed by Joko Anwar

On researching Impetigore I quickly stumbled on why the movie has that slightly strange-sounding punned title: Impetigo (im-puh-TIE-go) is a common and highly contagious skin infection that mainly affects infants and children.

So the story is as follows. Maya and her friend Dini discover that Maya might infact inherit a large house out if the city. Struggling with life as it is, they travel together to the Village she was born in, unaware of the curse that has plagued it for years – babies being born without skin

The opening scene to Impetigore is excellent. Perhaps too excellent as it got my hopes up to a point that it never really lived up to that opening exchange. We see Maya working at a toll booth when she is approached by a guy who she explains has been through several times previously and acted kind of strangely. When he pulls his car to the side and starts asking questions, things get a little scary and you feel it. Maya has nowhere to go and soon locks the window and door to her small booth. But when the guy returns wielding a machete, the tension really gets going. One faulty lock later and a run for safety and the viewers heart is beating.

Things do slow down immediately but there’s enough in that first half to keep horror fans happy. The village is of course, in the middle of nowhere and I actually would have liked the bus journey there to have been a little longer on screen because it created a few cool scares. Some were typical Asian horror tropes but they worked well anyway.

The village itself then gives off a strange vibe in that it harps back to horror classics like Cannibal Holocaust but also to more modern movies such as Midsommar. Evil Dead seems like a heavy influence too and that final shot is only missing Leatherface running down the road!

These aren’t bad things though because despite the many influences, Impetigore is original enough in its own right. Despite the ‘gore’ in its title, the director hasn’t gone overboard with the blood and guts. This, I think, has less to do with budget and more to do with making an impact when the gore is shown. Because there are a few highly gruesome moments and they all look great and even get a good scare out of the scenes they are in.

The story unfolds nicely at a good pace with each reveal feeling like it is placed at the tight time. Any film over ninety minutes now and I almost always feel like ‘is it really necessary to be this long?’ but I didn’t have a problem at all with the films length (just over 105 minutes).

Many of the cast are relatively inexperienced but performances are enjoyable. Lead actress Tara Basro keeps the movie flowing nicely, while I was even more impressed with Marissa Anita as her best friend Dini, who is the highlight of almost every scene she is in.

Impetigore’s story does get a bit ridiculous at times but it’s dark, creepy and at times shocking. Shudder has added another highly entertaining horror movie to its service.

*** 3/5

Impetigore is available to watch on Shudder now.


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