Indonesian director Joko Anwar can create terror, absolute terror that creeps under your skin. Some years ago, I happened to buy a ticket for his movie Kala (2007) on a day when the population of the country seemed to have other priorities than to waste two hours in a darkened hall. I ended up having the whole cinema hall to myself, surprising because normally a show would be cancelled if there were two or less patrons.
At first it was a happy surprise. But as the film got underway, I started to regret being alone in the dark.
If you’re only familiar with his work that deals with the macabre, you might be surprised to learn that Joko’s directorial debut was a romantic comedy. Janji Joni (2005) is a delightful little romp through Jakarta as Joni, played by heartthrob Nicholas Saputra, races against time to deliver a film reel to a cinema as an ultimate quest for love. It’s casting cinema’s survival as really depending on how fervent the feelings of love are!
And then you get something like Kala and later, Pintu Terlarang (2009), and you realise that there’s something of a dark fantasist in Joko.
It’s not unexpected then, that the announcement came from HBO Asia about Joko’s helming of an 8-part fantasy series called Halfworlds, a thriller set in his favourite city of Jakarta that involves a battle between humans and demons. And it seems our Malaysian actor Bront Palare is in the cast as well as child actress Puteri Balqis.
Twitch broke the news today and has the details.
And if you want a taste of Joko’ terror concoction, here’s his short for Silent Terror, called Grave Torture. Be warned, it’s seriously not for the faint-hearted. It is extremely disturbing and eldritch in its portrayal of death and after.