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April 2007

April 2007: Travel

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  • Movie: Hantu Jeruk Purut
  • Movie: Ghost Rider


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  • Hantu Jeruk Purut
    Movie Review
    by Georgette Tan

    Genre: Horror / Thriller
    Director: Koya Pagayo
    Language: Indonesian
    Cast: Sheila Marcia, Angie Virgin, Valia Rahma, Sammuel Z Heckenbucker.
    URL: Official Website

    Hantu* Jeruk Purut has the dubious honour of kicking off this year's personal mission of watching more Asian cinema, with a particular emphasis on Malaysian horror. I found out a little too late that this movie is Indonesian, but I'll include them since they are our neighbours and Indonesians tend to make better movies.

    Not this time around.

    We are treated to a prologue where three teenagers, fortified with alcohol and adrenaline at a dance club, decide to see if there is any truth to the Jeruk Purut urban legend. According to stories, the ghost of a beheaded Pastor will appear if you circle his grave seven times while in a group with an odd number of people.

    So they visit the grave in the dead of the night and die rather gruesome deaths inspired by the Final Destination movie franchise. The bloody scene then melts into opening credits inspired by heavy metal music videos.

    At this point, we should go into the main story but this is where we find that the first third of the movie is about Anna, a novelist who is writing a book based on the Jeruk Purut incident. Through her we learn the recorded history of the headless Pastor.

    In the flashback, a young lady named Laksmi skips into the forest with a basket of baked goods for the good Pastor. Some romance between the two is hinted. Before she can find him, Laksmi is accosted by a fellow villager, who rapes her.

    Her screams reached the ears of the Pastor, who was standing somewhere in the jungle doing whatever it is that people do in the jungle with their backs to the camera. He turns, dramatically tossing his shoulder-length hair and dashes over for the rescue. Because the rapist had a parang**, the Pastor and his handmaiden didn't survive the encounter.

    Anna's research includes a visit to the cemetery in the dead of the night with a camcorder, undeterred by the crime scene tape left from the three recent deaths. After that, things start going very bad for her and she is stalked around the house by something that makes wet slimy noises. She dies very violently, but not before calling a young novelist friend and begging her to finish the book.

    Airin (Angie Virgin) the teen writer who has apparently never watched CSI or any other horror movies, rushes to Anna's house, follows the trail of blood, finds the body, has a screaming fit, and then runs off with Anna's laptop and research material. The focus of the movie shifts from the dead writer to Airin and her friends.

    Airin has a couple of problems of her own. Her mother spends hours staring into space, still destroyed by her divorce. Her best friend's boyfriend Valen (Sammuel Z Heckenbucker) is hitting on her. Airin looks after her mother, and fends off Valen's advances out of loyalty to her friend Nadine (Sheila Marcia).

    Against their better judgement, they do the seven rounds at the cemetery and make themselves next in line for haunting. Nadine, Valen and Chessa (Valia Rahma) beg Angie to stop writing the book but the need to finish the story and honour her idol's last request was greater than the need to survive the ghosts of the Pastor and his woman.

    Hantu Jeruk Purut is a production that doesn't know if it wants to be a horror movie, psychological thriller or a slasher flick... so it tries to be all of the above. There are so many nightmares within nightmares scenes that when another cat and mouse scene starts, you figure that it's just another dream. By the time it actually stops being a dream, nobody cares anymore.

    It's a predictable horror movie, where the creepy music will warn you that something scary is about to happen. However, this is a great flick to try if you want to play "Guess which Asian horror movie this scene was inspired by". It sure did tell me that I've seen too many of them.

    This movie also has a website that is a pain in the butt. Takes ages to load. I have better things to do with my time, so no poster for you.

    * "Hantu" means "ghost" in Malay and Indonesian.
    ** a parang is a stout straight knife used in Malaysia and Indonesia.

    Georgette Tan writes for a Malaysian newspaper. She is fond of movies, long walks on the beach and clichés.
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