Film Column – Trinil

It’s all rather silly and bit of a giggle, but not without a certain antiquated charm.

INDONESIAN horror film Trinil, now streaming on Netflix, is based on a famous radio play set in the late 1970s.

Directed by Hanug Bramantyo, this melodramatic ghost story takes itself far too seriously but is cheesy fun if you can forgive it for its cheap tricks and pantomime psychological high jinks.

There’s something rather charming about it’s old fashioned spooky thrills and over-the-top excitability, but it wears thin as the story drags on. And it does drag on.

Trinil opens with tea plantation workers musing about the mysterious disappearance of Madam Ayu (Shalom Razade), which sets us up nicely for lots of Scooby Doo-like shenanigans.

According to loyal caretaker Joko (Goetheng Iku Ahkin), the lady of the house has gone to the Netherlands on business. But with the strange and sudden deaths of a number of plantation workers, tongues begin to wag and an element of unease settles around the big house.

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When Rara (Carmela van der Kruk), heiress to the plantation in Central Java, returns from her honeymoon with new husband, Sutan (Rangga Nattra), things quickly start to take a more unsettling and paranormal direction, and even the continuous rain seems to signal the arrival of some foreboding omen.

From here out it is sleep paralysis, levitating brides, flying head ghosts, and more flickering lampshades than you can say boo to. Haunted by a ghost separated from its body, proceedings are all very theatrical, but with little to have viewers jumping out of their seats.

It’s all rather silly and bit of a giggle, but not without a certain antiquated charm. The acting and plot are fairly woeful but it is all beautifully shot with hints of Suspiria’s hallucinogenic supernatural exuberance in parts.

If the director had knocked 20 minutes off the running time, this would be a far more entertaining horror flick. Overall though, Trinil is far from perfect but it belongs to a new trend of Indonesian horror films that punch well above their weight.