Indonesian horror film, “May the Devil Take You,” premiered on Netflix this week, adding another layer to the endless list of Netflix originals and capturing a new angle to a traditional haunted house movie.
“May the Devil Take You” follows a young woman, Alfie, played by Chelsea Islan, who searches for answers to her estranged, bedridden father’s illness by visiting an old villa she and her father once lived in.
The movie explores satanic superstition and demonic possession. At the beginning of the film, Alfie’s father, Lesmana, played by Ray Sahetapy, is introduced by making a deal with the devil to become wealthier. But he doesn’t pay his dues and leaves his evil second wife and children to suffer.
Islan does a fantastic job with her leading role. Among the cast, Islan had the best performance, alongside Pevita Pearce, who plays Alfie’s step-sister Maya. During the movie, Maya transforms and is the child who pays Lesmana’s dues the most. Pearce portrayed the part of Maya graciously — a part that definitely took some time to rehearse.
As Alfie, her step-mother and step-siblings are paying debts, the movie spirals into its demonic twist, and suddenly pale-faced ghosts are in the picture. These ghosts resemble the girl from “The Grudge,” which can make the film too stereotypical for a horror fan’s liking. But the way these ghosts engage in the story makes the movie worth viewing. The deaths in “May the Devil Take You” are pretty brutal, and very bloody, but the evil that catalyzes these deaths is what makes them seem like nothing compared to what’s behind them all.
Something that sticks out in this film is the use of hair. In many horror movies, hair comes out of mouths to produce an eerie effect that creeps out viewers. In “May the Devil Take You,” hair is used in more than that one typical fashion. In fact, hair wraps up characters in the movie and is knotted and used to “wrap up” one character’s life in no time.
Throughout the movie, stereotypical scary music plays and fades suddenly as something thrilling is about to happen — whether it’s a jump scare or a climactic moment capturing attention to the horror of the film. The scary music added a mysterious element, but as it faded, it made its jump scares predictable, which isn’t what most scary-movie-connoisseurs enjoy.
Since this is an Indonesian film, subtitles will help English speakers understand the movie and its plot better. But the plot is fairly easy to understand without subtitles; the film’s visuals are so big and bold and its cast’s acting is beyond expressive.
This movie’s scariness is a 7/10. “American Horror Story” fans can stand more horror and gore than what this movie brings to the table. “May the Devil Take You” may have some typical scares, but other aspects of the movie stand out and make it worth watching for horror and foreign film fans alike.