Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Forbidden Door (Pintu Terlarang)

The Forbidden Door is a 2009 Indonesian psychological horror film starring Fachry Albar, Marsha Timothy and a bunch of other Indonesian actors.  The story revolves around Gambir, a sculptor whose claim to fame is statues of pregnant women. He is successful, is married to a beautiful woman, Talyda, has great friends and his life generally appears to be going wonderfully.  But, there wouldn't be a movie unless this "seeming happiness" is nothing but a cover for some dark and terrible shit going on underneath.

We come to learn early on that the secret to the pregnant women statues is in fact, aborted fetuses. It started with Talyda's first couple of abortions and continued with Gambir picking up his usual supply from the clinic. The fetuses are placed in the hollowed out bellies of the statues. He is disgusted with this arrangement from the very beginning, but everyone is enjoying the money and fame he is receiving from his sculptures (as well as the control they exert over him), so breaking away isn't really an option.

After a while, Gambir repeatedly finds the words "Tolong Saya" (Help me) written wherever he goes, and comes to believe that a young boy is in trouble and needs his help. Add to that his friends' assertions that "everyone has secrets" and a special building where members come to view disturbing television streams on different channels and you have what seems at first glance to be plot overload.

It's not. All these storylines start to fit perfectly as the movie progresses and what you end up with is one of the smartest and most well-made movies in years. I watched this movie for the first time last year and loved it. I wasn't sure if it would hold up to a repeat viewing, but recently that thought was dispelled and I loved it even more the second time around.

The pacing is pefect. This isn't a ghost story, as most Asian horror films tend to be. This is straight up psych horror and I really wish more directors would take a look at this and see what it takes to make a GOOD film. Nothing is wasted here. No scene is frivolous. The performances are solid, the dialogue is intelligent and overall, this is a fucking brilliant movie. There are few movies that I would recommend everyone go see, but this is definitely one. If you like smart, keep you in your seat psychological horror, then pick this up as soon as you can. The Christmas dinner scene alone is worth it.

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