Starring Caitlin Halderman, Jefri Nichol, Marsha Aruan
Written by Kimo Stamboel
Directed by Kimo Stamboel
“Those who reside in the mystical world, open your gate. Welcome us to your presence for us to live in your world.”
These are words no one should ever speak, and there exists a film from Indonesia that reveals why.
Dreadout, aka DreadOut: Tower of Hell, is directed by Kimo Stamboel, famous for Macabre and Killers. Netflix has distribution rights for Dreadout in Singapore, but under Nikkatsu International Sales, we are starting to receive the film through the festival circuit. As it travels the world from South Korea to my eyes here at Fantasia Fest and on to the next location, maybe we all will finally discover what smartphone we need to purchase to kill demons like the film’s protagonist.
Linda (Caitlin Hilderman) wants to go to college. She works hard, saving money to ensure a better future for her and her family. But her work interferes with grades—and with her social life, evident when friends visit her at the Bright Food and Drink store she works at. College is the future for most high school students. But right now, what’s more important is increasing followers on social media. Friends Jessica, Beni, Dian, Alex, and Erik understand this goal and decide to sneak into the abandoned building filled with stories of ghosts. But if the ghosts don’t appear, the friends still have plans, acting out scary scenarios as they go live for their social media audience. However, one thing blocks their way. Kang Heri, the guard. What’s the solution? Linda, who knows Heri. Now inside, their plans come to a halt when they uncover another world, one monumentally more sinister than these quiet abandoned hallways.
Dreadout is based on the third person supernatural horror game of the same name. You play as Linda, trapped in an old abandoned town. The game is infused with demons, mystery, and puzzles that Linda must survive equipped with little outside of her smartphone.
This unique idea is replicated in the film. In the abandoned building, we discover a bottomless pool in the middle of an apartment. This pool links the present world to the abandoned town of an alternate realm, where demons effortlessly scale walls and the undead reach out from their graves. With all of this, my leading interest remains finding out what kind of cell phone Linda has. Seriously. If there is a phone out there with a flash strong enough to make a demon jump back like she’s been pimped slap, I want it.
Unfortunately, there is little in entertainment beyond the demon-beating phone. Although the actors play each role well, the characters are typical, resulting in a detachment to those characters, and consequently, the story. It is hard to empathize with a character being tormented by a demon or another tripping into a pit of the undead. Perhaps, Dreadout is a movie you don’t take seriously; however, the way the film opens to an exorcism, followed by Linda revealing the distress of her personal life, you anticipate your increasing attachment in the coming minutes. But in the end, you are left with detachment and disenchantment.
I’ve seen director Kimo Stamboel’s work in Killers and Macabre. What I receive in those are character development, suspense, and fulfillment. Therefore, I know that he has more to offer. I look forward to his upcoming film One Good Thing.