Guntur Soeharjanto's Suzzanna: Kliwon Friday Night opens with a wrestling competition. We first see Surya (Achmad Megantara) getting overpowered by his opponent. His energy, however, returns when Suzzanna (Luna Maya) starts cheering for him. This scene establishes how much love is present between these two lovers. He, after all, finds his strength in her presence. So when, later, Suzzanna dies due to black magic, it feels natural that Surya digs Suzzanna's grave and makes a deal with Death. Without her (his "muscle" or motivation, call it whatever you want), he looks feeble. It's also interesting how Surya's physical powers fail to save Suzzanna from an unwanted marriage and death.
Suzzanna: Kliwon Friday Night sounds good on paper. It's a tragedy about lovers who can only live forever in the afterlife. It's a drama about a mother in search of her daughter. Then, of course, it's a horror movie where the demon wreaks vengeance on people who destroyed her. These ingredients, however, are not satisfyingly mixed together. There is a painful childbirth scene that leaves you extremely uncomfortable. But apart from that, no other scene fills you with terror. The scary elements are not scary at all. Suzzanna's evil laughter is unintentionally humorous. The jump scares don't make you jump. Suzzanna's ghostly face looks like a result of bad makeup.
On top of all this is the film's unsuccessful attempts at humor. A security guard almost instantly forgets everything that is told to him. A meatball seller acts like a blind man in front of Suzzanna. A pervert shaman tells a wife to sleep with him in exchange for unleashing his most powerful spell. These moments are meant to be funny but only make the film more uninteresting. The so-called jokes and the so-called horror sequences pull Suzzanna: Kliwon Friday Night in two different directions. As a result, everything collapses.
The local rituals and celebrations will look fresh to a foreigner. Soeharjanto, though, doesn't shoot his images with a sense of immediacy or verve. The lackluster style always keeps us at a distance. We don't get anything in terms of aesthetic pleasure. The story, too, is uninvolving - that's the real horror. Suzzanna: Kliwon Friday Night has potential, though Soeharjanto's directorial skills don't do anything to make the film better. We are left with a feeling that it all could have been a feverish nightmare, an emotional drama, or a chilling fairy tale instead of being what it is in its current form: A complete misfire.
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