Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Plot: Three men decide to take their families to the orphanage where they grew up in order to pay respects to the man who raised them. However, the visit turns deadly when a dark presence soon makes itself known and is determined to uncover long-buried and terrible secrets.
Review: The Queen of Black Magic (Ratum Ilmu Hitam) is a remake of a 1981 horror of the same name. This Indonesian horror mystery thriller premiered on Shudder in January 2021 even though it was originally released in November of 2019 in Indonesia. It is directed by Kimo Stamboel (Macabre, 2009) and written by Joko Anwar.
The film begins very casually with the opening scene showing Hanif (Ario Bayu), his wife Nadya (Hannah Al Rashid) and their three kids in the backseat of their vehicle on their way to visit the orphanage that is clearly in the most remote location that one can find. There is a bit of amusing sibling banter between the kids before things start going south. The atmosphere changes when you observe just how dismal the surrounding area is, with gigantic cane fields and the lack of any modern means of communication. The unsettling mood and creepy pacing are more than enough to have the audience feeling uneasy.
If you are easily disturbed by creepy crawlies this movie may not be the one for you. There is a fair bit of gory sequences which includes self-mutilation and those creepy crawlies moving into and out of places that I am refusing to mention here. The character development is evenly paced, but sometimes it felt like innocent members were just literally being thrown under the bus by being made to pay for the transgressions of others. In fact, two of the female characters are made to suffer quite horribly by having their phobias used against them in some particularly horrifying ways.
We have a decent plot twist during the film’s climax that opens up into a whole new ball game. You begin to question just how innocent people may have been all along.
I should take the time to mention here that the film gave me a bit of an Evil Dead vibes due to a similar plot of a remote location, battling a supernatural entity, mutilation, and a dense forest beyond. However, unlike Evil Dead, the audience is faced with the classic whodunit scenario once the pacing starts to shift focus with the plot twist that I mentioned earlier.
The special effects are really intense and cringe worthy but I am not complaining here. The story however does suffer a bit with shaky execution in some parts, and the ending is a bit questionable.
But my final verdict is that it is not a bad watch for an avid horror fan. It is not perfection but then again nothing is.
Dark Alice’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
You can watch The Queen of Black Magic for yourself along with more great horror content on Shudder by clicking the big red logo:
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump.
I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. You can find me as Dark Alice Reviews on Facebook, my Instagram is alice_oscura and my Twitter handle is @lise_veliz2. For more on me you can click here.