Jailangkung (a 2017 movie review)

It could have been such a great movie…the poster is so nice! OK, I am getting really ahead of myself, but that’s basically how to sum up this 2017 disaster of a movie.

Rizal Mantovani
Rizal Mantovani

Really, as much as I love Rizal Mantovani’s original Kuntilanak (reviewed here) – and I know I’ve stated that a couple of times already, Jailangkung is right there in the corner with his remake of Kuntilanak from 2018. And I am really sorry for that, because to ruin such a great idea…

Joe Poernomo
Joe Poernomo

But not to blame the really lame movie on Rizal, the script by Baskoro Adi Wuryanto has a lot to answer for. Although, considering that Rizal and Jose Poernomo have directed also the original Jelangkung (2001), they should have known better…or at least the good folks in Screenplay Films and Legacy Pictures should.

Baskoro Adi Wuryanto

Why, you ask? Glad you’ve asked, let’s have a look.

Opening sequence of the movie is great. Village people are burning a woman who is supposedly a witch, nurturing an evil vampiric ghost called mantianak (but mantianak can be a different entity in various mythologies). Before being consumed in flames, the witch shouts out to the shaman that she will be reincarnated through his descendants. Not bad a start and I love stuff like this one.

Lukman Sardi
Lukman Sardi

Cut to the present times, there’s a guy, Mr. Ferdi (or Ferdy, played by Lukman Sardi), brought to the hospital in a coma. His condition is quite baffling though, as the doctor can’t really explain the cause of his state to his daughters Bella (Amanda Rawles) and Angel (or Kak Angel, played by Hannah Al Rashid).

Augie Fantinus
Augie Fantinus

The sisters are approached by captain Wardana (Augie Fantinus), who gives them a box with a photo of a big house and keys, and telling them he found their father in the house (to where he’s brought him every year) and brought him to the hospital.

Jefri Nichol
Jefri Nichol

Bell then – by chance – sees a presentation by Rama (Jefri Nichol) about the Javanese mythology’s concept between soul and body and it somehow clicked with her to check with the guy about the possible cause for her father’s coma. And they also somehow quickly get together as a couple. Because, you know, why not.

Now they decided to solve the mystery of the house. Captain Wardana has brought the group – Bella, Angel, Rama and sisters’ youngest sibling, Tasya (Gabriella Quinlyn) to Alas Keramat and in the house they find out their father was playing with jailangkung (which is something remotely like an ouija stuff in the West) to bring back the ghost of their deceased mother.

Gabriella Quinlyn
Gabriella Quinlyn

As expected, this went terribly wrong and the father’s got possessed by the spirit of the deceased witch. So that’s one stuff explained, but as they try to get the ghost back in the afterworld, Tasya’s got possessed by the spirit of mantianak as well. Of to the hospital we go.

After Angel goes home to get shower and some rest, we’re witnessing a truly mind-boggling sequence which is like – what the hell am I watching – kind of stuff. At home Angel starts to hallucinate and suddenly she’s pregnant, so Rama and Bella are rushing to help her. Bella, while on their way, calls an ambulance for Angel, only to be told (when arriving in the villa), that Angel went out with two people. She is indeed in the ambulance, but not that one Bella called for her, and she’s brought to some makeshift hospital where some creepy doctor delivers some ugly looking baby.

Rama and Bella follow the GPS signal from Angel’s phone to find her in an empty grave in the graveyard. What’s happened? What was that? Any explanation? Well, you’re not getting one.

And just like that, the father gets out of coma, and after they are told they have to go back to that secret house to banish the ghost to free Tasya from the possession, they embark again on their way.

Not gonna bore you, the ending makes a way for the sequel (which happens in 2018), but boy, this was just terrible.

Apart from the inept script and some stupid situations, I am really fed up with moviemakers using that yellowish filter on the movie. What’s scary about yellowish filter? Well, nothing! Although, truth to be told, even the best post-production work couldn’t save this wreck of a movie.

As I say – this one could be so good. Possession movies, while they play on the basically same routine, are one of my favourites and I can forgive a lot while watching them.

Hannah Al Rashid
Hannah Al Rashid

The only redeeming quality here is the duo of actresses, Amanda Rawles and Hannah Al Rashid.

Amanda Rawles
Amanda Rawles

So, I’d recommend to watch Jailangkung only if you want to witness the nice concept to get ruined. But it still a level above “The Secret”, if that tells you anything.

Considering the richness of Indonesian mythology, legends and traditions, and the tradition of Indonesian filmmaking itself, it’s just a pity otherwise capable directors can’t do more than ruin their previous successful movie projects with unnecessary remakes and reboots.

Trailer:

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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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