Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vamp or Not? Rumah Dara

From the directors Kimo Stambeol and Timo Tjahjanto comes this Indonesian shocker that, at its heart, is a slasher and stars Julie Estelle (Kuntilanak and Kuntilanak 2).

Now whilst it is a slasher at its heart and carries a very dark, brutal atmosphere – thanks largely to Shareefa Daanish’s performance as the main baddy – there is an undercurrent within the film that suggested itself as a “Vamp or Not?” to me.

Ladya (Julie Estelle) is a waitress and her brother Adjie (Ario Bayu), along with his heavily pregnant wife Astrid (Sigi Wimala) and friends Jimi (Daniel Mananta), Alam (Mike Muliadro) and Eko (Dendy Subangil), are in the place she works. He is trying to reconnect to his sister – who blames him for their parent’s deaths – before emigrating to Australia with Astrid. They eventually convince Ladya to go to Jakarta airport with them all.

As they drive away a girl walks in front of the car. She tells them she has been robbed and her name is Maya (Imelda Therinne). They offer to take her home – she lives en route to Jakarta.

Dara feels Astrid's baby bump
Once at Maya's house they are introduced to Maya’s mother, Dara (Shareefa Daanish), who insists on preparing a simple feast to thank the strangers for their kindness. Astrid is given a tea to drink and then goes to a guest room to lie down, accompanied by Adjie, and the others sit down for dinner with Maya, Dara and the two sons of the family. During the meal they are given gourmet meat (and you know that can’t be good) and are drugged.

the film gets rather gory
From the point on the movie becomes a slasher film (meets torture porn to some degree) with the various friends being killed and at least one actually butchered. Yes the family eat human flesh – and it seems they also provide human meat to other like-minded people. However cannibalism itself does not lead one to a conclusion that a film is vampire genre.

old movie
At the head of the film we see a very old home movie of children. Later we see more of it and it is clearly an indoctrination/training session for the three children. They are taught how to beat and kill humans from a young age. However the key to this is that the movie is very old. The indoctrination might explain the incredibly sociopathic attitudes of all three children.

dating the photo
Later we see photographs and one is of Dara and it is dated to 1889. She has either a secret of youth or full immortality and it is directly connected to eating human flesh. I mentioned how good Shareefa Daanish’s performance was and she gave the character an almost alien quality that was, essentially, all kinds of spooky. Dara also seemed incredibly strong, stronger than a standard human certainly.

baby skull
Finally Dara is obsessed with babies. The tea she gives Astrid forces labour and she actually suggests that should Astrid tend to her injured husband and leave the child she might escape. There is a room with baby skulls and many of the vampire myths from Indonesia and other nearby countries involve the devouring of babies.

Shareefa Daanish as dara
I really rather enjoyed Rumah Dara, it was a well done slasher with a psychotic edge. Is it Vamp? The elements are almost background to the actual slasher aspect but they are there. Nothing is explicit but Dara could almost be another species and she certainly is long lived, and eternally young it would seem. I would say this is Vamp.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

On the topic of Vamp or Not?, I came across yet another one: The Deaths of Ian Stone (2007), which I enjoyed.

I suppose that as long as parasitic feeding is a resonant cinematic theme (no danger of that not being the case), they'll keep making more Vamp or Nots.


Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Halek

The Deaths of Ian Stone did register on my awareness as a possibility but having read the dvd blurb I didn't follow through and watch it - I may have to check it out some time