The duo that gave us films like “Macabre“, “Killers” and “Headshot” (The Mo Brothers, Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel) has split up during the last years, with the former already having “May the Devil Take You” and “The Night Comes for Us” under his belt with considerable success. Thus, it was about time for Kimo Stamboel to present a solo movie, with “Dreadout”, a production that is based on the homonymous Indonesian, survival horror video game.
Linda is a high school girl, who has been tormented by the memory of an incident that took place ten years ago in an apartment room, where a cult leader forced a mother to read a blank parchment, which opened the portal to hell and ended up with her dead. Ten years later, Linda is poor and has to work part-time in a convenience store, but is quite popular on social media, due to her looks. When a band of acquaintances including Jessica, Beni, Dian, Alex and Erik, who want to increase their social media exposure, invite her to explore an abandoned building that was last used by a cult, before they were taken down violently by the police during one of their ceremonies, Linda reluctantly agrees, but in the process, even helps in charming the security guard into letting them in. However, he poses one condition for them: not to set foot on the 6th floor. Expectedly, the “gang” members soon find their way exactly there, where they find a parchment only Linda can see and read. As soon as she does though, she opens a portal into an alternate dimension where the Red Kebaya Lady and her sidekicks, White Sister and Pocong, await them with rather vengeful “appetites”.
I would like to begin this review by stating that I have never played the videogame, therefore I will examine the movie as a standalone work and not as an adaptation. That being said, Kimo Stamboel directs a very interesting supernatural horror-thriller using an approach that lingers between the J-horror, particularly regarding the characters and the main concept (and the presence of the well), and “Pan’s Labyrinth” in terms of atmosphere and visuals, although with a much meager budget. The combination works quite well, particularly because Patrick Tashadian’s cinematography, Bobby Prabowo’s editing, Ade Gimbal’s production design and Aldie Harra’s costumes are all great, and in combination with the SFX and the work done in the action choreography and stunts, result in a rather impressive spectacle, at least visually.
Furthermore, Stamboel invested heavy on creating an overall atmosphere where the supernatural horror thrives, and not just focus on jump-scare tactics, as is usually the case in films of the genre. And despite the fact that Aria Prayogi’s work in the sound is quite important for the atmosphere, I can easily say that he succeeded through his direction and overall context. Regarding this last aspect, Stamboel did not neglect including some social comments, mainly having to do with social media and how far people and particularly youths are willing to go in order to become popular. The fact that Linda uses her smart phone as a weapon, however, is a rather ingenious concept in ironic fashion, as it seems to go against the recent “trend” of criticizing youths for always using their phones.
Of course, the naiveté and the clichés usually associated with the genre (open for sequel ending, for example) are also here, but in this case, on a much lesser degree than usual.
Regarding the acting, I would say that, for the most part, it is here to “serve” the atmosphere, although Caitlin Halderman as Linda, Mike Lucock as the security and Rima Melati Adams as Red Kebaya Lady definitely stand out.
“Dreadout” is a more than worthy effort, a film that thrives on atmosphere and visuals, and a must-see for all fans of horror-thrillers.