I don’t know what kind of magical mind muddling substances were dissolved into the water coolers during SXSW Festival Programming, but after last night’s World Premiere of Joko Anwar’s Indonesian Horror/Thriller ‘Modus Anomali’, I am beginning to think that perhaps half of the panel just didn’t show up.

Now about this time during a review I would probably go into great detail describing the intricacies of the plot and perhaps the deep seeded sociological issues contained within.  The problem is that with Modus Anomali, there was almost no hint of any substantial story.  Basically a man wakes up buried alive in the woods, returns to his cabin to discover his wife murdered and children missing, and then proceeds to run around for 80 minutes shouting obscenities in broken English.  THAT’S IT!  You could plausibly get up after the opening scene, go out and have a nice steak dinner, and come back for the last 10 minutes and still be 100% caught up.

Rio Dewanto, who plays the film’s leading role, puts forth a performance that I’m sure on set seemed like some of the most award winning dramatic beat changes of all time, but on screen he just instead seemed to be channeling Dakota Fanning ala War of the Worlds.  The same goes for absolutely every single other actor in the film.  It was almost like they just picked people off the side of the road and asked them if they had a few minutes to read some lines and sprint through a few meters of forest; ridiculous!

The bad acting and the terrible plot weren’t even the worst part of this film.  That honor goes to the terrible joke of a 3rd act that literally spend 20 minutes  methodically revealing the supposed ‘twist’ that the WHOLE audience already figured out way back in the 1st act!!  Anwar must have forgotten that he wasn’t back in the first decade of film making, and that audiences were actually able to figure out quite a bit of information on their own!  Oh, and don’t get me started on all the terribly unmotivated camera work.  It was as if Mr. Anwar couldn’t decide whether to shoot a straight traditional narrative or a found-footage feature, and just decided he’d figure it out well.. never!

It takes a lot for me to be disappointed by a midnight film  and even more to encourage me to write about said disappointment.  By nature the horror genre is allowed an uncanny amount of leeway with its content.  Audiences sometimes like things to be a little low budget and a little cheesy, but the gracious patience of horror fanatics isn’t infinitely pliable and Modus Anomali somehow was able to find that breaking point.  Once again, another foul joke has been played upon SXSW movie-goers, and I’m sure somewhere right now, the festival’s programmers are having themselves quite a laugh.  If you want to see what the future of Indonesian film really looks like, go see The Raid: Redemption instead.



As a side note.. I have a theory that this film got programmed based on it’s trailer alone.  Would the following teaser make YOU come out to see this movie?