Satan’s Slaves is an Indonesian remake of a 1982 film titled Satan’s Slave. The film takes place in 1981, and centers around a family who lives next to a cemetery, and the horror film hijinks that ensue after the family’s matriarch dies from a mysterious illness. This film came as a recommendation from one of the HIFF staff (I believe it was Anna) when they were introducing the film Ichi the Killer. I was already registered to attend the screening for this film, yet after this recommendation, I assumed that this film would be more of a gore-fest than it was. Despite only one graphic scene of physical violence, the film still entertained me greatly, and I found myself often on the edge of my seat during the almost-two hour runtime.
Satan’s Slaves captures the feeling of a B-grade horror film, reminiscent of those made during the era in which the original came out, the 1980’s. This is mostly due to the stylistic choices made in the soundtrack and score department, which helped to create the specific atmosphere captured by these cult classic films. Despite this, the film also bares all of the hallmarks of a professionally-made horror film like The Exorcism or The Conjuring, due to its professional acting, cinematography, and sound design. This film is also similar to films of that ilk due to its propensity to use practical effects, as opposed to cgi. This makes the scares that much more effective than they would be if the filmmakers made use of uncanny valley-esque effects for the many different antagonistic forces throughout the film.
The acting is much better than I expected it to be, after being introduced to the film’s main characters, which consist mostly of children. Particularly, I enjoyed immensely the performance of the youngest child, who is deaf. He has all of the funniest lines in the film, and is also perhaps the cutest kid I have ever seen in a film. He is downright adorable, and this contributes to the tension created when he is directly involved in the horror happening onscreen. This, combined with the convincing performances of the other younger actors in Satan’s Slaves, reinforces a theory I have been contemplating during this year’s festival, and that is that foreign child actors are infinitely better than almost every child actor in American cinema. In short, if you enjoy films like The Conjuring and cult classic B-horror films from the 80’s, Satan’s Slaves is definitely for you.