Indonesia’s first ever supernatural film-noir is the type of movie you encounter in the early hours on some cable channel you never knew had, when you’re eyeballs are booze-pickled and for about seven or eight minutes you’ll watch it convinced it’s one of the great neglected screen masterworks. But it’s not. In fact if you can imagine the kind of film the geek with a ponytail who works in your local video shop might make, had he energy enough to manoeuvre his flubber from the counter top, then it would probably end up something like this. It’s tosh, and I mean that in the fully pejorative sense, replete with craven steals from other films, dodgy subtitling, atrocious comic book dialogue, largely woeful special effects (a hit and run incident that may have featured Morph from Hartbeat), mystifying plotting and less nuance than a Republican presidential campaign ad. Criminally it also has absolutely no sense of humour.
Why was it made? Who is it meant to appeal to? Around this point in the review I usually try to explain the plot, or at least the set up. But frankly I’m clueless. There’s a narcoleptic journalist called Janus and a gay policeman called Eros, who—on account of his sexuality no less—will be revealed as the ‘Queen of Justice’: yes, that is the level of pun we’re dealing with (though I’m afraid my Indonesian isn’t up to the job of checking whether it’s a fair translation). And also there’s some kind of femme fatale, or two, or three with split ends and the kind of dress Queen Victoria might have picked out when especially miserable before she, or they, unaccountably turns into Xena Warrior Princess.
The only aspect of the film that night sustains one’s interest are actor Ario Bayu’s limbs. Are they all double jointed or has he simply been born without bone structure? How does the man stay upright? How can he wiggle in four competing directions simultaneously and yet still make it across the room? Can he break out of straitjackets, or tie himself around a lamp post by knotting his arms, or fold himself through letterboxes and post himself like ‘Flat Stanley’? Is his mum a squid? Who knows? Who cares? Buy a ticket for your video store geek. He’ll love it.