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Home | Film Reviews | Film Review: Satan’s Slaves 2: Communion (Pengabdi Setan 2: Communion) (2022)

Film Review: Satan’s Slaves 2: Communion (Pengabdi Setan 2: Communion) (2022)

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SYNOPSIS:

Several years after a terrible incident cost their mother and youngest sibling their lives, Rini and her siblings Toni and Bondi live with their father in flats. They believe living in flats with many people is safe, but they soon realize this might be dangerous if they don’t know their neighbors. On a night full of terror, Rini and her family must save themselves.

REVIEW:

The director of Kundala, and Impetigore, Joko Anwar, is back with more satanic terrors in a form of a sequel to his 2017 super hit Satan’s Slaves (Pengabdi Setan). Anwar has in the past demonstrated his capability for creating truly unsettling pieces of horror cinema, combining effective scares with well built atmosphere and suspense. His latest offering to the genre continues in the same vein, with more satanic horrors, high tension, and eerie supernatural action.

The sequel picks up the story three years after the events of the first film. Bahri (Bront Palarae) has moved himself and his kids, Rini (the always wonderful Tara Basro), Toni (Endy Arfian) and Bondi (Nasar Annuz) to a lonesome Highrise on the outskirts of Jakarta. The atmosphere is uneasy from the get-go, as this concrete temple to Brutalism offers the bleakest possible backdrop for the story. Adding to the rising tension is an approaching storm that threatens to flood the surrounding area, as well as inner turmoil within the family unit as Rini announces her plans to go away to college. Things take a turn from uneasy to horrific when the building’s rickety little elevator crashes down, killing everyone inside, except for Bahri. In middle of a flood, without electricity, and a building full of cadavers, the Suwono family once again find themselves in middle of supernatural events, hell bent on tearing the family apart.

Anwar has once more succeeded in creating something genuinely unnerving. As the original story did not necessarily offer much room for a sequel, he has opted to expand on the satanic mythos around the storyline. This is not entirely successful, some of it adding unnecessary clutter to the story, but on the whole Anwar has managed to do a good job in padding out the story. The best of this is seen at the very beginning of the film. Taking the viewer 30 odd years into the past, we see the investigative journalist Budiman (Egy Fedly) taken to an isolated observatory. The horrors he finds inside are as ghastly as they are puzzling and do an excellent job in piquing the audience’s interest. The sequence not only gives more background to Budiman and how he originally got involved with investigating the supernatural, but also helps to create an eerie ambience that informs the rest of the film.

Anwar has taken his time to build the tension and the first half of the film might lull some viewers into a false sense of security. That is not to say it is boring, as amongst the setting of the scene and introducing new characters, there is a steady stream of little scares that keep you wanting more, but the pace is certainly slower than what most modern horror films have to offer. This, of course, is not overly surprising as Anwar is known for his love of 1970’s and 1980’s horror cinema and Pengabdi Setan 2 definitely has more in common with the moody, steadily build terror of those two decades. The scares not only come in the form of cheap jumps, but there are several truly unnerving sequences that really get under your skin. The use of disembodied voices, together with the extremely dark, desolate set work wonders in helping to set the mood. The special effects are also  of fantastic quality, some of which showcase nightmarish, body horror type terrors that personally took me quite by surprise. What makes them that more effective is the careful and well thought pacing and visibility, showing the viewer just enough to unsettle them but leaving some room for their own imagination to fill in the blanks.

Pengabdi Setan 2 is not totally without problems. As said, the decision to expand on the original plotline is only partially successful and the end conclusion with Budiman painstakingly explaining why the satanic cult is back in action feels like an awkward afterthought, simply added on to set up the next sequel. However, looking at the film as a whole, that is very minor gripe and will most definitely not ruin anyone’s enjoyment of the rest of it. I for one am very much looking forward to whatever fresh hell Anwar will conjure up next.

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