• Golden Globe Awards

Impetigore (Indonesia)

Impetigore is a movie from Indonesia that slowly sucks you into the ancient and spirited culture of that mystical part of the world. Ancient Javanese language is spoken by old characters as the story becomes slowly more mysterious and soon you realize that you are taking a slow descent into terror as tension builds and never lets up.
Written and directed by talented Indonesian filmmaker and former journalist and film critic Joko Anwar, the film was presented at Sundance 2020. Later Mr. Anwar won as Best Director at the FFI (Film Indonesian Festival). The film is a departure from his 2019 superhero movie Guntala, but also a return to the horror genre of his Satan’s Slaves.
Impetigore, in the Indonesian language, translates as “bad-land-woman” and we meet her as Maya (Tara Basro). Maya and her best friend Dini (Marissa Anita) do everything together and at the opening of the film, we see them working as parking toll collectors in booths next to each other. It’s a normal work night until Maya gets attacked by a man wielding a machete. He claims to be from the village where Maya was born and lived until she was five years old. Before getting shot by the police called by Dini, he screams to Maya calling her by the name, Rahayu: “Return what was taken from us!” Shocked, Maya finds an old photograph and discovers herself in front of a large house with what seem to be her parents.
Intrigued by a past that she had totally forgotten, Maya convinces Dini to travel to her native village hoping to find a way to claim possession of her family house and sell it so they can invest in their clothing and fashion dream. After a long bus journey, they find a very old town in the middle of nowhere inhabited by suspicious villagers. The suspenseful cinematography and creative direction take us slowly into the thick of mysterious Javanese culture. The girls break into the large house that has been abandoned for 20 years. Funerals happen every day and the cemetery shows a lot of children’s graves. One day Dini is kidnapped by the villagers who take her to an old building, tie her upside down, slit her throat, and skin her. It is horror of the first order and Maya, looking for her friend spies the birth of a baby born without skin and immediately drowned by village leader Saptadi (Ario Bayu). She finds out from the only sympathetic villager Ratih (Asmara Abigail) that 20 years ago, a rich wayang kulit (shadow puppet) artist was rumored to have made a pact with the devil to skin graft his daughter Rahayu who was born without skin. Since then, all babies in the village have been born skinless and the villagers believe that Rahayu/Maya must be skinned to stop the curse.
It’s interesting to know that the Unesco designated wayang puppet theater, which is the flat leather shadow puppet (wayang kulit) and the three-dimensional wooden puppet (wayang golek) theater from Indonesia, as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
So you can get legally scared out of your wits!