It has been five years since Joko Anwar brought the horror cult classic back to life with a remake. “Pengabdi Setan” (Satan’s Slave) was a wickedly thrilling and intricately detailed film, boasting a strong narrative development and clever plot twists. However, the sequel, released after this half-decade span, falls short of the lofty expectations set by its predecessor. While still providing entertainment value, it somewhat falters in its execution.
Rini (Tara Basro) and her family now reside in an old apartment complex in North Jakarta, a few years after the chilling events that transpired in their previous home. In the prior film, the malevolent presence of Ibu (Ayu Lhaksmi) haunted their lives in the village, ultimately forcing them to abandon it.
Rini currently toils at a factory, wrestling with a dilemma: an opportunity for a scholarship to study in another city has arisen. However, her reluctance to leave stems from a sense of responsibility she feels towards her younger siblings.
Toni (Endy Arfian) has matured into a capable young man with a knack for fixing things. The youngest sibling, Bondi (Nassar Annuz), is a quick-witted teenager much like his peers. Meanwhile, Suwono (Bront Palarae) remains enigmatic about his occupation.
Trailer from Rapi Films
The narrative delves back to 1955, preceding the Asian-African Conference in Bandung. A police lieutenant summons a journalist to an observatory in Lembang, with the aim of uncovering and sharing a horrifying account of corpses manifesting within a building. Their suspicion is that these corpses autonomously emerged from their graves, congregating near the structure.
The storytelling is well-crafted, particularly in the first half of the film. This segment introduces both old and new characters, establishes the new setting, and continues the development of the terror stemming from the preceding installment. The foundation of the story remains robust, especially aided by a flashback narrative in the initial 10-15 minutes set in Bandung.
The introduction of the central problem is also effectively presented, as Rini readies herself to leave town. Shortly thereafter, a radio broadcast predicts a storm and ensuing flood in the area where Rini and her family reside. Before the storm’s arrival, a significant tragedy unfolds: the elevator malfunctions and plummets, leading to the demise of several residents.
After the lift incidents, the movie finds its weakness. The tension building become more and more repetitive until it turns boring. The boredom hit the spot especially during the praying scene of Tari (Ratu Felisha) in her room.
Not only in terms of horror, but at one point, the movie takes on the essence of a detective story or a treasure hunt when Rini becomes curious and embarks on a mission to pilfer her father’s briefcase. The transition, however, feels rather abrupt. Some details, like the aged photographs of the flats featuring foreigners and the concluding images of the Asian-African Conference parade, are clearly photoshoped. These aspects could have been handled more seamlessly.
During the peak of the conflict and also in the resolution, the narrative becomes somewhat convoluted after Ian (Muhammad Adhiyat) is suddenly discovered sitting in a room. Numerous elements unfold unexpectedly, yet lack explanation. For instance, there is no clear elucidation regarding the malevolent sect, both before and after Rini’s family is kidnapped.
The resolution involving the journalist also seems somewhat arbitrary. The logic behind how Rini’s family can be abducted while Bondi’s two friends remain unharmed is unclear. Moreover, the sequence of events becomes even more perplexing when Rini and her brothers attempt to escape on a boat, with Bondi’s friends lending assistance.
Furthermore, the methods employed by the journalist to combat the devil or Satan are rather eccentric. The utilization of a small red ball to make the pocong vanish, the purpose behind the pistol’s use (which fails despite being fired into a crowd of sect members), and the transformation of a stick into a claw that causes the devil to soar away and cling to walls like Spiderman – all of these elements seem peculiar. The film presents an abundance of intricacies, but these intricacies lack adequate clarification.
In many ways, “Pengabdi Setan 2” could be likened to squandered potential. While it builds up with promise, the execution falters significantly in the latter half. Despite its recurring narrative patterns and superfluous elements, the movie remains engaging, owed partially to the commendable performances by the actors and the quality of the musical score.
Our Score (6.5/10)
Title: Pengabdi Setan 2 (Satan’s Slave 2)
Production: Rapi Film, Sky Media, Legacy Pictures
Director: Joko Anwar
Screenwriter: Joko Anwar
Casts: Tara Basro, Endy Arfian, Nassar Annuz, Bront Palarae, Ratu Felisha