Friday, May 13, 2016

Pocong kesetanan! – review

Director: Pinkan Utari

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

We have come across the Indonesian pocong, or shroud ghost, before. From Muslim lore the pocong shroud must have its ties released after 40 days following the death. If that does not happen then the soul becomes trapped in the body and hops out of the grave.

It isn’t a vampire type, it is more like a physical ghost. This film lands on our radar because there is a creature mash up and the film also includes a kyonsi. Now a Chinese hopping vampire and pocong mash up sounded brilliant to me, on paper at least. With both creatures portrayed as hopping it just seemed to work in my head. I wish it had worked on screen.

It begins with a character, Santo (and, no, he’s nothing like the wrestler), sneaking through what appeared to be a derelict building. I say appeared to be, because we later discover it is some sort of mausoleum. As he sneaks through we see a pocong and a kyonsi hopping. Santo gets to a coffin and opens it… and wakes up at home with the pocong floating above him, before it vanishes.

uninvited guests
Santo goes to his front door and we get three young people there; Bujang, Mertil and James. They have been sent from the village where Santo originally comes from, by his father and a teacher, to bring him home. His friend Asep later turns up as he is in a relationship with Mertil. Santo house-shares with two girls as well. He convinces Bujang and James to go to an old cemetery with him, due to the dream he has had.

the kuntilanak
He explains that a Chinese man was buried in the cemetery and his coffin has treasure in it. The absolutely wafer thin plot is that they take the monies from the coffin and are haunted by the kyonsi, the pocong (who had died trying to get the treasure) and it seems a kuntilanak might be around too. However the monsters do little but scare the cast – there are no attacks as such, indeed no vampiric behaviour at all, and little in the way of plot.

The film is a comedy. Bujang is a rhyming champion (I assume he was meant to be a rapper, maybe it was a poet) and offers rhymes with an affected grin at the end, which is meant to be funny. Of course the subtitles did the rhyming no justice at all, but the couplets weren’t funny either. I think, perhaps, there was a high level of missed cultural references but – even taking that into account – it wasn’t funny. The fact that the DVD’s English subs were obviously poor probably didn’t help.

holding breath
Gags about girls’ armpit hair, for instance, were at best puerile, rather misogynistic and mainly pointless – perhaps the Indonesian humour around this is culturally ingrained but it left me cold. We got a holding breath and fart gag – a 'go to' for comedies with kyonsi in – and quite a bit of physical humour around the hauntings. But all through I was just left colder and colder by the humour and left grasping for a plot that was gossamer thin.

Perhaps my Western sensibilities are doing this one a injustice – I hope so – but for me this was poor. 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: