Gerbang Neraka (a 2016 movie review)

Also known under the English title “Firegate”, Gerbang Neraka is an adventure/horror movie from the director Rizal Mantovani. Haven’t I told you I’d need to make a special section at IndoKult for him?

However, before any of you scream I’m obssessed with Rizal’s work, it’s not true, but when you research his work for the reviews of movies like Kuntilanak trilogy (review here, here and here), I’ve found quite a few other movies catching my eye.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a copy with either English dub (if it exists at all) or at least with English subtitles, so out of necessity I’ve watched an original Indonesian language copy.

A little digression – the amount of movies being made every year in Indonesia might surprise many (and I am still baffled by this fact too). Unfortunately, the vast majority of them never reaches the audience outside Indonesia (and possibly Malaysia and Singapore), so producers apparently don’t bother with foreign language subtitles or dubbing. Also, many are basically unavailable to get on VCD or DVD, so the only way to see them is either to find them on some obscure torrent trackers or Youtube. Not the ideal solution for a movie lover and collector (and I’m pretty sure Robert Ronny, the script writer and producer of this movie, and the production company Legacy Pictures will agree with me on that). Well, let’s hope this situation will change someday.

Back to our movie. It’s looooong! Not kidding, it’s almost 2 hours long, but good news is, you can follow the story without any big problem and it’s not boring. Which, considering you don’t understand 99 percent of what’s being told, is a very important thing.

In the beginning we are introduced in a native tribal ritual going quite ugly inside what’s actually a real pyramid in Indonesia on Mount Padang. And for us, the history buffs, this is apparently the oldest pyramid in the world. Now that’s some stuff I love to watch and explore!

Jumping into the present, we’re meeting a journalist Tomo Gunadi (Reza Rahadian) working for a paranormal sensational tabloid who starts to investigate the excavation site of the pyramid at Mount Padang, where the strange occurences (deaths, to be more precise) move him to join hands with the archeologist Dr. Arni Kumalasari (Julie Estelle) and a psychic Guntur Samudra (Dwi Sasono).

The movie can be compared to The Mummy (that one with Brendan Fraser, not the Tom Cruise fiasco) with a much less budget, and my only complaint is the length of the sequence of our trio of unlikely heroes being in the pyramid and fighting the demon. Comparing to the buildup to this climax, it really feels like gone in a blink of the eye.

There is quite a lengthy conversation scene between Tomo and the demon (in the form of the guy in the white dress), which, I think, might be of some greater importance, but, as I didn’t understand a word, can’t say what it was, sorry.

But overall it was actually a likeable movie. Obviously, the movie watchers from the West might frown upon it (and the young audience would never understand how we were able to watch movies without understanding what’s being said…hello, bootleg VHS tapes!), but for those of you never experienced Indonesian cinema and looking just for a light-weight adventure fun (with a few horror scenes thrown in) for a movie watching evening, this might quite surely fit in. I was certainly entertained and I wouldn’t mind more movies from this category.

Rizal Mantovani
Robert Ronny, the producer and the movie script writer

As mentioned earlier, Gerbang Neraka is another movie directed by Rizal Mantovani, with Robert Ronny providing the script and producing the movie (he’s produced quite a few movies, among those the 2012 action horror Dead Mine, Rizal Mantovani’s and Jose Poernomo’s 2017 remake of Jailangkung and its 2018 sequel Jailangkung 2, also the supernatural horror May the Devil Take You from 2018 (this one is still available on UK Netflix) and 2019 superhero blockbuster movie Gundala, among others).

Julie Estelle

The main cast is actually a small band of actors, and I don’t have to introduce Julie Estelle, do I? Well, I’ve introduced her in the review of the original 2006 Kuntilanak, so I’d recommend to check it to learn more about her.

Lukman Sardi

We’ve met also another actor from Gerbang Neraka, namely Lukman Sardi (here in the role of the demon Badhurah), and you can learn more about him from my review of the 2017 horror movie Jailangkung.

Ray Sahetapy

The professor Wirawan (meeting his untimely death) is portrayed byt the senior actor Ray Sahetapy, whose filmography is quite extensive, but so far I’ve known him only from May the Devil Take You (2018), but he’s also in the 2013 sequel of Rizal Mantovani’s slasher from the 2009 Air Terjun Pengantin, titled Air Terjun Pengantin Phuket.

Reza Rahadian

The main character here is the reporter Tomo, played by another actor with a rich filmography, Reza Rahadian. For those who want to get familiar with him, he can be seen in the 2016 comedy My Stupid Boss and it’s 2019 sequel (My Stupid Boss 2) currently streaming on Netflix UK.

Dwi Sasono

However, the most interesting character in Gerbang Neraka is probably that of a psychic/mystic Guntur Samudra, embodied by Dwi Sasono. This sympathetic actor could be seen in Pocong (2006) and Pocong 2 (2006) or action adventure comedy Wiro Sableng 212 from 2018 among many others.


Rudolf Schütz

I am the founder/owner and editor-in-chief of the Rubber Axe webzine, the underground/overground cultural publication, publishing also this website dedicated to all things Indonesian. I'm a happily married guy with 2 kids and a fantastic wife, and I'm a relentless discoverer of all things cultural and culinary. An everlasting dreamer and idealist.

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