Indonesian Folklore Horror ‘Impetigore’ is a Compelling Watch (31 Days of Horror Movies You Missed Pt 19/31)

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

This October I decided to watch and review some of those great horror movies (31 to be exact) that I missed on their initial release. And for Part 19 of my series of the 31 OF THE BEST HORROR MOVIES YOU (MAY HAVE) MISSED we will be checking out Indonesian horror Impetigore. Let’s get to it:

Day 19 of 31: Impetigore

When he tells you to, ‘Get to the choppa!’

Original Title: Perempuan Tanah Jahanam (translation Woman of the Damned Land)

Director: Joko Anwar

Starring: Tara Basro, Ario Bayu, Marissa Anita

IMDb Trivia:  Impetigore is a portmanteau of “impetigo” (bacterial infection of the skin that is more common in young children than other ages) and the word “gore” (which means violence and bloodshed).

OLD WOMAN: Plan on murdering me in my sleep? ALL: What? No! Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Ical Tanjung, I.C.S.

Plot: Maya with her best friend Dini are struggling to survive in the city. When Maya discovers she may inherit a property from her rich family she returns to the village with Dini, unaware of the danger that waits for her.

Review: Nominated for a record-breaking 17 awards in its homeland Indonesia and selected as the official entry for the Best International Film at the 93rd Academy Awards (it wasn’t nominated, but this is quite a feat for a horror movie) Impetigore on its surface is a story of one family’s greed and how they manipulate the folks of a small village for their own gain. While I wouldn’t call this movie scary, director and writer Joko Anwar masterfully merges his country’s folklore with classic horror elements such as a stranger trapped in a place she doesn’t understand, an isolated setting, and being hunted by people whose beliefs have been twisted by a curse of their own making.

Did you hear who Sheila’s sleeping with? Everyone!

The mystery of the curse and how it originated is the most compelling aspect of Impetigore. I won’t spoil it for those who wish to see for themselves but it’s not something I’ve seen before, which added to the originality of the story. From the chilling opening to the beautifully shot introduction of the village and the dread that slowly builds with the arrival of Maya and Dini to this secluded place, the stage is set for the kind of horror movie that will pull you in with its mystery and won’t let you go until its Texas Chainsaw-inspired conclusion.

Now don’t let the title fool you; there really isn’t that much gore to be found here. And a lot of the blood is CGI, which tends to pull you out of the story. But there are a few grisly moments here and there, and the effects of the curse itself is one I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. There’s a few missteps here and there, like an additional bit at the end that I felt wasn’t necessary in the least. It feels very tacked on, a generic horror trope ending if you will, and I wish it had stayed on the cutting room floor.

Dang! These Indonesian puppet shows are intense!

Thankfully the rest of Impetigore is so good I can forgive a stumble or two. With its menace-filled atmosphere, solid performances and engaging mystery this Indonesian horror is well worth the viewing time.

Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10

You can check out Part 18 of my 31 Days List and gory throwback film The Void below together with Indonesian horror The Queen of Black Magic.


2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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