With the horror genre being in somewhat of a hiatus since the end of the j-horror era that occurred in the mid-00’s, filmmakers from “alternative” countries (I mean apart from Japans, S.Korea and China, who produced most horror films) stepped in to fill the gap. One distinct example is this Indonesian film by Upi Avianto, in her first attempt at the genre (she has directed 6 more films before “Shackled” but none horror ones).
“Shackled” is split in two parts. The first one delves into the metaphysical, where we watch the protagonist named Elang, a bartender, having nightmares regarding violent and bizarre murders while strange things seem to happen constantly in his life. Furthermore, a killer of women seems to be roaming the streets of his neighborhood and Elang is afraid for his neighbor Djenar and her daughter, suspecting her controlling husband, Guntur, who works as a knife thrower, dressed in a rabbit costume in quite a peculiar show.
Gradually, Elang begins to lose his grip with reality, with the nightmares appearing even during the day and the arrival of a girl named Jingga, who Elang seems to constantly dream about. To make things worse, the police arrest him as a suspect for the murders. From that point on, begins the second part of the film, which eventually reveals a terrible secret and a very complicated case overall.
Upi Avianto directs quite a terrifying film, a sentiment stressed by both the grotesque setting, particularly the block of flats Elang lives in, and the various characters, the majority of whom look utterly frightening, chiefly due to their stare. Moreover, a sense that something peculiar is going on is evident throughout the first part, adding to the terror and exploding upon the appearance of Jingga, that ends up in bloodbath. Of much importance is a phrase Elang utters at one point, that all the people “are imprisoned in the town.”
The second part is more of a psychological thriller and a crime film, since the mixture of nightmare and reality gradually gives their place to realism, that eventually though, proves more terrifying than the previous setting.
Abimana Aryasatya is great as Elang, portraying a perpetually scared individual who slowly loses his mind and ends up in paranoia. His general looks, including his stare, help him the most in the depiction of his character and along with his acting result in a performance properly fit for the genre.
However, the one who steals the show is Imelda Therinne as Jinnga, who acts wonderfully as both a sultry girl who takes advantage of Elang and as the character she transforms into, in the second part of the film. And she looks gorgeous, too
“Shackled” may not present any original ideas, however, it is elaborately structured and truly excels in terms of art direction and acting .Furthermore, it achieves its goal of being a truly terrifying film.
“Shackled” has been released in the UK by Terracota Distribution in dvd-format