The Queen of Black Magic

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Rather than a wedding, the departure point for this remake of Liliek Sudjio’s same-named 1981 Indonesian cult horror item is a reunion of sorts at an orphanage. Mr. Bandi (Yayu A.W. Unru), will any day now breathe his last, and a trio of acquiescent repatriates are coming to pay their respects to the man who raised them. Haqi (Muzakki Ramdhan), the young son of former orphan Hanif (Ario Bayu) and wife Nadya (Hannah Al Rashid), bears the brunt of much of the film’s introductory exposition: as a current resident tells him, twenty years ago, Ms. Mirah (Ruth Marini) returned alone after an outing with orphan Murni (Putri Ayudya) and alleged that the young girl was abducted by a demon. Her rantings led to banishment behind the mysterious green door, currently situated just down the hall from the children’s wing. Some say her ghost spent the ensuing decades locked in the room. As for Murni, she was never seen again. Not only does Haqi discover the door, the inquisitive tyke also finds, buried beneath a safe, a photo album containing a faded photo of — you guessed it — Mirah and Murni! In the original, Murni’s main concern was to work her hoodoo only on those who participated in chucking her over a cliff. The 2019 transmogrification allows nothing to get in the way of Murni’s supernatural spree killing. That includes an anorexic guest who, after slitting her throat and abdomen, lives to feast on fuzzy caterpillars, and a busload of foundlings sent to their death. In each case, the resultant black magic instills within its victims a propensity for smashing their heads into any flat surfaces they near: doors, walls, windshields, etc. One question became a matter of extreme importance: our three sons knew of the horrors that went on behind these walls. Why bring their families to the reunion? There was an innocence to the Ed Wood-ish awfulness that flavored the original. What goes on here is calculated repugnance. Both versions are available for download at www.shudder.com. (2019) — Scott Marks

Rated NR | 1 hour, 39 minutes
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