Jakarta. Indonesian film director Rizal Mantovani is releasing two horror movies,"Kuntilanak" and "Jailangkung 2" during the Idul Fitri holiday on Saturday (15/06).
Although the release date is accidental, it may increase viewership, as during the holiday many people seek entertainment.
Whether it is okay to screen horrors during the holiday, Rizal said it is not the first time that such films premiere on Idul Fitri. It is only entertainment based on fantasy.
"I don't treat them as scary movies, but films about monsters than you can have fun watching. We don't have aliens or superheroes here. We have these ghosts as our monsters," Rizal said.
Amrit Punjabi of MVP Pictures, which produced Kuntilanak, and Jessika Pingkananda of Screenplay Productions, which produced Jailangkung 2, echoed Rizal's optimism with regard to viewership.
Both see Idul Fitri as a moment when people are eager to go to the movies. Amrit assured that competing with other local movies and summer Hollywood blockbusters will not be a problem, because the kuntilanak is sufficiently popular in urban legends. The kuntilanak is a female vampiric ghost.
"With the name 'Kuntilanak,' with the 'brand' of kuntilanak ... I'm sure people will want to watch the film," he said.
Jessika told the Jakarta Globe that the first Jailangkung, released last year, was very successful. It got more than 2.5 million viewers in Indonesia, and was the fifth most popular local production.
"That exceeded our expectations and our team is glad with this achievement. Hopefully, many viewers from last year will return this year. We hope the number of viewers will be bigger than last year," she said.
Jailangkung also entered Malaysian cinemas, after gaining popularity home. Before the international promotion of its sequel begins, however, Jessika said Indonesian viewership has to be checked first.
Meanwhile, Kuntilanak is scheduled for release in Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Australia, which Amrit considers as markets "familiar with horror movies."
Shift to Families
While the kuntilanak is a female demon, the spirit of a woman who died while pregnant, the jailangkung is a wooden doll used to summon spirits.
The two creatures had already appeared in Rizal's earlier films. His Kuntilanak trilogy, released in 2006, 2007 and 2008, tells a story of a girl named Samantha (Julie Estelle) who has the ability to summon kuntilanak. His 2001 movie, "Jelangkung," co-directed with Jose Purnomo, features a group of friends searching for ghosts in haunted sites.
What is new about the upcoming movies is that they revolve around families.
" 'Kuntilanak' is more about siblings, while 'Jailangkung 2' involves a whole family," he said.
Families are portrayed in a few recent Indonesian films, like "The Doll 2" (2017), "Pengabdi Setan" ("Satan's Slaves," 2017), and "Danur 2" (2018). Has Rizal aimed to follow the trend?
"My observation did't go that far. Perhaps critics are the ones who can comment on the current trends. I just wanted a different angle from the previous … To me, what's important is not what people want, but what serves the story best," he said.
His new Kuntilanak follows the legend, but makes the demon live in a mirror. She lures children through shapeshifting and posing as their mothers. She kidnaps them and feeds on their souls.
The movie is centered on five children at an orphanage, who have to prove that their bond is thicker than blood to be able to defeat the kuntilanak. They also want to solve a past mystery of a missing child.
Jailangkung 2, which Rizal again co-directed with Jose Purnomo, picks up where Jailangkung ended. Three sisters, Angel (Hannah Al Rashid), Bella (Amanda Rawles), and Tasya (Gabriella Quinlyn) are trying to figure out what causes their father's (Lukman Sardi) coma. They use the jailangkung doll to solve the problem.
All is well in the end, but in the meantime Angel gives birth to a demon baby, which then becomes the main problem in the sequel.
On top of that, Tasya, who is the youngest, wants to communicate with her dead mother, so she creates her own jailangkung.
Even though both films are about families, Rizal said they carry different messages.
"Whereas Kuntilanak underlines the need for family members to stick together to fight all threats, in Jailangkung 2 family members have to trust each other even when the demon tries to break them apart … What Ferdi did [in Jailangkung] wasn't meant to be solved easily. There are implications that psychologically affect the family. This is where trust is needed," he said.
A Break From Horror
After this, Rizal wants to take a break from horrors, because fantasy movies, according to him, demand a great deal of imagination. He needs to recharge and refresh his ideas.
"I need to recharge. It's tiring to make horror movie. It doesn't mean I'll stop making horrors, but I'm just taking a break. I'm making a romance movie now. Next year there's also a drama lined up," he said.
His dream, however, is to make an action movie.
"I've always loved action ... I've wanted to make an action film. Hopefully, next year the dream will come true," Rizal said.