Fantasia Festival 2019: DreadOut (2019)

DreadOut (2019)


Director (and writer): Kimo Stamboel

Cast: Caitlin Halderman, Jefri Nichol, Marsha Aruan, Ciccio Manassero, Susan Sameh, Irsyadillah, Mike Lucock, Rima Melati Adams

DreadOut is a 2019 Indonesian horror film telling the story of a group of high school students that go into an abandoned building to try and make a viral video and accidentally opens up a portal to another realm full of evil spirits.

Based on the 2014 Indonesion survival horror game of the same name, its important to first make it clear that the movie itself is a different story. It uses the same realm and even a portion of the evil spirits that appear in the game as well as some of the characters. There are some familiar scenes however, it still drives itself in a story that will translate better as a feature movie. There is no fault in choosing that path however, despite some nice cinematography, there are a mix of elements that both work and don’t work and it bases heavily on whether you are familiar with the source material or completely new to this world.

With that said, DreadOut has some of the issues of being indecisive. It lingers between horror and comedy, not being able to commit enough to a tense scene and very often, breaking the tension with some random silly dialogue. With that said, a lot of scenes are predictable jump scares, mostly accentuated through loud sounds and humming music or chants. It also goes on a little repetitive, mostly because the main defense is the main girl Linda (Caitlin Halderman) and the flash of her smartphone while jumping back and forth through reality and the other spirit realm while finding and losing her members of the group over and over again. She runs into all sorts of different evil spirits, increasing in its strength. Different from the game, the dangers are presented one after another without the game angle that gave its uniqueness, its presentation of Indonesian spirit origins.

Its hard to not think that DreadOut either is deliberately mocking or playing tribute to mainstream American horror when it emphasizes a lot of horror tropes that most horror viewers loathe, for example going into an empty place and saying hello. These are fun little moments if it is the former (which is the reason I choose to believe). Its definitely one of the more satisfying elements here.

As someone who knows the game, there are a lot of material to fill in those blanks and appreciate the effort here especially embracing the Evil Dead style of horror. It has its typical video game adaptation flaws like shallow characters and creatures and as a foreign language, also lingers in the bad script of stating the obvious which is okay in a game but doesn’t translate as well as a horror film except give it a good laugh due to the overacting and serious moments hindered by clunky dialogue. Despite its flaws, the run time packs the film fairly well-paced so for the general horror viewer, it should still satisfy a little demonic possession horror craving.