From left, Irsyadillah, Caitlin Halderman, Ciccio Manassero, Marsha Aruan, Susan Sameh and Jefri Nichol in Kimo Stamboel's 'DreadOut.' (Photo courtesy of

'DreadOut': Dreading the Plot Holes


JANUARY 07, 2019

Jakarta. Is it now time for Indonesian video-game geeks to rejoice at the release of "DreadOut," the first local game-to-film adaptation, or be disappointed at another lame reworking of a brilliant game?

DreadOut, directed by Kimo Stamboel, one half of gore-masters The Mo Brothers, begins with five fame-hungry teenagers loitering in a parking lot, arguing how they can get more followers on social media followers – and quickly.

They decide to make a live video of an abandoned apartment building with the help of Linda (Caitlin Halderman), who knows the guard there who will let the teens in.

But what begins as a casual expedition turns into a life-threatening one after the teens trespass a room protected by police lines.

When Linda reads aloud a mantra from an ancient scroll the teens find in the room, a portal to another dimension was opened, and a fright of ghosts awakened.

Visually, the movie is a treat that includes an homage to the "Here’s Johnny" scene from "The Shining."

As a horror movie, it's often more funny than scary, thanks to the group of teenagers' silly hijinks and excessive swearing.

But sadly, the spectacles can’t save us from being dumbfounded at the movie’s plot holes.

Too Many Question Marks

DreadOut could have been one hell of a mindless fun but the loose plot keeps us engaged in an interminable guessing game instead.

The movie has a strange logic to it that reportedly is copied from the game (e.g. we don't know what phone Linda uses, but we want one since its battery never runs out).

But since the film is supposed to be a prequel, why not start with a clean slate?

Genre-wise, the movie still feels more like a Mo Brothers slasher fare than a ghost story.

The teens spend most of their time in the film being chased by flying keris, sickles and ghosts-who-bite.

DreadOut is a survival story at heart, just like The Mo Brothers' classic "Rumah Dara" ("Macabre"), but unlike the latter, Kimo's poorly written story this time ignores the importance of its own fabric of reality.

One of the more memorable characters from DreadOut is Kebaya Merah ("Red Blouse"), who reminds us of the ghost of Hungarian noblewoman Elizabeth Bathory in the Disney horror movie "Stay Alive."

Bathory lives in a castle, but Kebaya Merah lives in a traditional Sundanese house complete with a gamelan set and a row of wayang golek puppets.

But we are never told the origins story of Kebaya Merah, the film's leading ghost character.

We know that the story of the film happens in a Sundanese universe (hence the wayang golek puppets), but other than that, nothing.

Who or what is she? There is a photo in one of the scrolls the students discover of Kebaya Merah standing in front of her house with Dutch soldiers and dignitaries.

Was Kebaya Merah a Sundanese queen? Is her characted based on real life, or a legend? DreadOut refuses to give us the answer.


When quizzed by journalists at the DreadOut premiere, Kimo said he simply could not cram all the ghosts' origins stories in a 95-minute movie.

Perhaps Kimo could have cut the film's talking time to make room for more of those origins stories.

The film is simply too talky. Every turn in the plot is explained by a character talking about it after it happens. It gets frustrating since you know already what the character is going to say.

And too much talking ruins the movie’s pacing.

Dialogues often overlap, which instead of being Altmanesque, can simply be annoying and make it hard to hear what is being said.

This was apparently a deliberate decision, with Kimo arguing that noisy teenagers often do talk over each other.

DreadOut should have been a more comprehensive introduction to the original game’s universe. Having fewer plot holes and a more logical structure would help.

We're supposed to laugh only at the teens' shenanigans, not at the movie itself.