Thursday, October 13, 2011

In short: Pocong Kamar Sebelah (2009)

Little does college student Felisia (Rahma Azhari) expect the boarding house she's just moved into to be this troublesome. Trouble number one (though she doesn't know it), is one of her neighbours who also happens to be the son of the establishment's owner. Among this charming guy's hobbies can be found poking a camera through the hole he's made in Felisia's wall, and staring creepily while masturbating (as much as an Indonesian film can show such a thing). Then there's the disturbing fact that the house's interior is only ever filmed from weird and slightly disturbing angles, suggesting a certain atmosphere of dread.

Might the latter problem have something to do with the sounds of a crying woman coming from the room next door to Felisia every night, behind a door the owner is warning her not to open, a door that has not just been locked for two years but chained closed?

Our heroine will eventually find out, for she - not being particularly bright - decides to open the room anyway for no good reason. It will not exactly come as a surprise that Felisia's action sets free a ghost, a pocong (shrouded female ghost) to be precise. As is the habit of pocongs, the dead woman then proceeds to appear creepily to Felisia and the other inhabitants of the boarding house, tap people on the shoulders from behind and make a frightening nuisance out of herself, until she finally works herself up to a bit of killing.

Will our rock dumb heroine survive the ghost's attention?

Pocong Kamar Sebelah (which translates to "the pocong next door", the Internet tells me) is another cheap and dirty horror movie from Indonesia, featuring the Indonesian version of a Paris Hilton-like celebrity in the lead role.

Fortunately, this isn't the sort of film in need of a real actress, but only someone more or less attractive who is willing to squeeze into various tight outfits, act in the sort of sex scene the Indonesian censors allow, and poke her (clothed) breasts in the direction of the camera while staring panic-y. Azhari is surely able to perform these functions well enough, so there's no need for me to complain.

Director Ian Jacobs seems to generally know what he's doing. While he's probably putting a bit too much visual emphasis on Dutch angles and likes the usual jump scares a bit too much, he is at least visibly trying to deliver the goods expected from another one among the endless number of Indonesian horror movies of these last few years from the film's first minute on. Jacobs tries to make up for what the film's script lacks in complexity by a not original, yet well-timed series of mild shocks and simple spook effects that is only ever disrupted for what goes for sleaze in contemporary Indonesian cinema (and lacks the comedy stylings that make many of these movies pretty difficult to get through for me).

The resulting film surely isn't something anybody would ever rave about, but it fulfils its function as a mildly exploitative diversion well enough.


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