There is something about foreign horror that always seems to make me gravitate towards it in the store. Today was no exception as my eyes caught Macabre sitting there among countless other DVDs. I had never heard of it before but the box said it all. A creepy woman looking out at me with a fork in her hand, skewered on the utensil was a severed finger and the tag line “evil has a mother” We’re off to a good start. Macabre is the first horror film I’ve ever watched from Indonesia and I had no idea what to expect but sometimes it pays to take a risk.
Macabre or as it’s known in Indonesia “Rumah Dara” was released in 2010 by Gorylah Pictures and directed by the Mo brothers. The film stars Shareefa Daanish and Julie Estelle.
The premise is something that is familiar in the most basic sense, a group of young people are packed in a car to see off a married couple Adjie and Astrid who moving to Australia. Along the way they visit Adji’s sister Ladya (Julie Estelle) who they convince to come aswell. While on the road they run in to a strange girl named Maya who tells them she has been robbed and needs a lift home. They agree and she leads them to an isolated villa in the middle of nowhere. When they arrive Maya introduces her to her family. Head of the household is her mother Dara (Shareefa Daanish) a strange and ethereal woman.
The group decide they’ll stay for dinner but find out too late that their food was drugged, they all pass out and when they awake Dara and her family’s true intentions become clear. The group is to be harvested for meat because they believe that cannibalism holds the secret to immortality. Are they just a bunch of crazies or is this more than just a deranged cult?
Movies that have the theme of a cannibalistic family, cult or whatever in the middle of nowhere is something that I have a love hate relationship with. On the one hand I try to watch as many of them as I can but on the other hand films like this end up being horror that I watch once and then am done with. Macabre on the other hand is something that I can’t wait to sit and watch again.
This film starts off quickly and becomes relentless in its brutality. When characters are fighting for survival they are fighting back hard. Fights are gritty, gruelling and nobody just stays down with one hit. I honestly kept wondering how some of these characters could still be alive after some of the punishment they take. This is amplified by the special effects and tight editing. If you’re a gore-hound, this movie has enough blood to satisfy your urges. By the end of the movie the entire house seems washed in crimson.
One of the films highlights is easily the Chainsaw versus sword fight. Both Ladya and Dara are soaked in blood with body parts and gore everywhere. Or another beautifully cringe educing scene involves the heel of a shoe and that’s all I’ll say.
Even though this film doesn’t hold back at all in terms of what it’s willing to show I didn’t feel at any point that it was too much, even though this film has been reportedly banned in certain countries. Then again I’m not exactly sure what I would consider “too much”. Scene where somebody is for example dismembered with a chainsaw is actually handled rather artistically. Yes I did just say that.
Daanish steals ever scene she’s in. Her character of Dara is hauntingly creepy as a mother who is obsessed with strength and the idea of living forever. She is subtle and restrained until the final moments and then she just lets loose and when she does it’s so damn effective.
I can’t praise this film enough. It’s honestly one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long time and hands down my favourite in the sub-genre of “Cannibal family” horror. Do yourself a favour and watch it now.