Regina Karis had a chance to preview Modus Anomali, one of the feature films to be screened at this year’s Indonesian Film Festival. Filled with mystery and suspense, she tells you why this Indonesian thriller is worth the watch.
It’s a little bit of a public secret that Indonesian cinema is dominated by quick horror/thriller flicks of questionable quality, but Modus Anomali (2012) takes it one step further and brings to the plate a psychological thriller that rises above the others of its kind.
Modus Anomali, literally “anomaly mode”, features a seemingly ordinary holiday cabin in a nondescript woods somewhere in the world, which really should be your first telltale sign of what the rest of the movie is going to be like, especially when your protagonist is a man who has lost a chunk of his memory and his main problem is his missing, possibly dead family members.
For a psychological thriller with mystery and suspense elements, the buildup to the big finish, admittedly, is rather slow.
In true horror fiction protagonist fashion, John Evans (Rio Dewanto) spends the first portion of the movie sneaking around in dark and cramped places, wielding murder weapons he may or may not know how to use as he searches for his loved ones and seeks to discover the ugly truth behind the situation he finds himself in.
Without giving away any spoilers, from then on the movie takes a sharp turn into a darker, more twisted and disturbing territory.
Modus Anomali is directed by Joko Anwar, an Indonesian filmmaker famous for his versatility. He made an interesting decision to shoot this movie completely in English, a choice that sometimes, just sometimes, dampens the melodrama of the story.
Yet despite all of its shortcomings, Modus Anomali is definitely one of Indonesia’s breakthrough psychological horror thrillers, bathed in Anwar’s artistic, experimental style of film noir and amplified by a strong lead performance.
Dewanto is an expressive actor, well-suited for the range of emotions the movie angles for: terror, cluelessness, panic, desperation, confusion, even lunacy.
In the end, the twists and turns in this film are so simple and so elegantly executed—like in any other good thriller—they might just be the last thing you expect. Recommended for horror/thriller aficionados who don’t mind waiting a little to get to the good parts.
Catch Modus Anomali on the opening night of the 8th Indonesian Film Festival, held at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) Cinemas from April 26 to May 2. Director Joko Anwar, producer Sheila Timothy and co-producer Tia Hasibuan will be present for a Q&A session immediately afterwards.
For more details about screenings and ticket bookings, visit the official IFF Melbourne website.