Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Kuntilanak 3 – review

Director: Rizal Mantovani

Release date: 2008

Contains spoilers

This is the third film in Mantovani’s Kuntilanak series – preceded by Kuntilanak and Kuntilanak 2 – and again stars Julie Estelle (Rumah Dara) as Sam, a girl with the power to sing a chant (though it is revealed in this that it is a Javanese lullaby) that summons the kuntilanak.

I nearly made this an honourable mention as there is very little vampire like action by the kuntilanak in this. However, towards the end we get a vampire-variant activity. I won’t spoil the ending sa such but will look at the lore later.

the kuntilanak
We start, however, with a couple in the jungle camping. Stella (Laudya Cynthia Bella) and her fella are engaged and she tries to scare him with tales of the kuntilanak and pretending to stop breathing. He goes into the jungle to get firewood. She hears singing and goes looking for him – finding him with his eyes poked out and held by the kuntilanak. She runs but it hunts her down.

Julie Estelle as Sam
A jeep carries Asti (Imelda Therinne), Herman (Reza Pahlevi), Petra (Laura Antoinette) and Darwin (Mandala Abdi Shoji) into the jungle, a helicopter buzzes overhead and they are acting as a rescue team for their friends (the couple from the intro) who are lost and incommunicado whilst on a hike. The chopper peels off and they pass by a woman walking the road. They return to her – it is Sam – and insist on offering her a lift.

kuntilanak in night vision
When they get as far as the jeep can go and have to continue on foot, Sam starts hearing a voice whispering her name. That night, whilst camped, they hear a baby crying and go to investigate – though they find nothing we see the kuntilanak stalking them. Sam has a dream of her mother telling her to find grandmother at Ujung Sedo to end the curse of chanting – a dream that adds some backstory for those who haven’t seen the first two films.

its behind you
The thing is this kind of turns into a slasher/stalker flick with a monster and a large dash of the supernatural. Sam does not use the chant in this and the kuntilanak acts more like a trickster at first – creeping behind folks and undoing hammock knots – and then starts to take the friends out one by one. A strange mist that dulls hearing as well as sight marks the barrier to Ujung Sedo and signifies the passage into another world.

child gnawing on an arm
It is at the end that the film decides to make its point, having wasted about an hour or more on this supernatural slasher side story. Sam finds children in the jungle and round an abandoned village, including the character Yenny (Cindy Valerie) from the second film. This also ties in with the children being taken through the kuntilanak mirror at the head of the second film.

When Sam meets ‘grandmother’, an ancient witch, actual lore is offered. The kuntilanak is the soul of a woman who gave birth (to an evil child) and was murdered after the child was born. In a strange moment of logic she lives forever as a foetus carried by grandmother (keeping her forever alive) but can be summoned in full form by a chanter. The vampiric element is that the children have been collected as they were conceived in sin and the kuntilanak eats their souls to stay alive.

unexplained dying effect
The film was interesting towards the end, due to the very unusual elements of lore, but dragged through the beginning. The friends were dead meat walking and we knew it and Sam had very little of substance to do – and seemed to be in no danger herself (as she was wanted in the village). One of the friends seems to go a funny, cracked shade and has red eyes when she died, why was not explained.

I felt this to be a bit of a damp squib within the series. Most of the acting was at a simple slasher level and Julie Estelle seemed to revert to looking bewildered through the majority of the film – coming alive again in the last fifteen minutes or so. 3.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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