★★★★.5 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Joko Anwar.
If 2022 has you a little jaundiced with reboots, sequels, prequels, and re-imaginations your feelings are not unwarranted. Let’s face it, Halloween Ends was confusing and largely devoid of Michael Myers. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was silly and uncooked. Hellraiser was pretty to look at, but became an unnecessary and boring reboot.
Have no fear. The Indonesians are here to save us!
While Hollywood trundled around looking to reboot the perfect horror franchise the Indonesian horror community, and in particular the brilliant Joko Anwar, was developing the near perfect horror sequel…Satan’s Slaves: Communion.
In 2017, Joko Anwar brought us another extra ordinary film in the first installment of Satan’s Slaves — ironically a remake of a 1980 version of the story. Largely following the same family from the first film, Satan’s Slaves: Communion takes place several years later in the mid-1980s. Rini (Tara Basro), her two brothers Bondi (Nasar Annuz) and Toni (Endy Arfian), and her father have managed to escape the wild and terrifying Satanic fertility cult and have found a quiet refuge in a massive prison-like concrete tenement apartment.
Rini’s father (Bront Palarae) has decided to rent an apartment surrounded by many other families to ensure that his family won’t be alone with the undead. Where 2017’s Satan’s Slaves focused around the exceptional bonds created by family, 2022’s version focuses around community and the collective need to ensure the safety and security of your neighbors. The problems that the characters face are that the apartment is built on a massive grave site (a’ la Poltergeist) and it was the site of an international Satanic fertility gathering (a’ la Rosemary’s Baby) nearly 30 years prior.
The film introduces a wonderful collection of young actors who propel the film with witticisms, empathy, and truly horrifying frights. Above and beyond Satanic cult and the grave site, Rini and her brothers are also faced with a looming tsunami-like storm that threatens to flood the apartment building, and if that weren’t enough, a tragic accident involving the apartment’s derelict elevators.
With the power out and the building quickly flooding, Rini, her brothers, their pals, and a handful of the kids from the apartment are left to check on the bodies of resident’s who died in the elevator accident. In traditional Muslim ceremonial rites the bodies of the deceased are swaddled and left out for families to pray with and welcome in to the afterlife. Two great tastes that go well together: dead bodies and no lights.
While Satan’s Slaves: Communion does take on a somewhat complicated storyline — no unlike its predecessor — the film is not really about the story, but the journey. This is journey that is all gas and no brakes. Joko Anwar never takes his foot off the peddle and each an every scene is punctuated with jump scares, an unrelenting soundtrack, dread and doom, and wild and horrific visions that you can’t unsee. The film ends with an incredible ritual that also works as an homage to the repeated flashbulb effect from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Not only does Satan’s Slaves: Communion do an exquisite job of carrying forward the original chilling tale of Satanism and the undead, but it also deftly creates the potential for a Satan’s Slaves part III. Joko Anwar’s eye for horror is unparalleled in the modern era. Each and every project that he has touched has been more exciting than the last and Satan’s Slave Communion is no exception.