(18) Running time: 95 minutes
Directors: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto
Writers: Kimo Stamboel, Timo Tjahjanto
Cast: Ario Bayu, Shareefa Daanish, Julie Estelle, Imelda Therinne
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, otherwise known as The Mo Brothers, are making waves among the horror community right now. Both have directed a segment for the awesome horror anthology, The ABCs of Death, and their violent new film Killers is building anticipation the world over. Tjahjanto also worked with The Raid director Gareth Evans to produce the stand-out segment of this years VHS2, the superb Safe Haven. However, the pair properly introduced themselves to the horror community with this nasty little flick, Macabre, which is based on their short 2007 film Dara. Released here in the UK in June 2012, the film is only just getting a proper US release on VOD, so you’d be forgiven if you have not seen it yet. However, my advice as one horror fan to another, is to get hold of this violent classic now!
I am ashamed that it has taken me this long to see it, but a year ago I had no idea who The Mo Brothers were. It was only through said films above that I became interested, and after reading a number of positive reviews, decided to purchase Macabre on DVD, and I am not disappointed. Macabre is the Indonesian version of classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the French shocker Frontiers, while some have also likened it to the superb French gorefest, Inside. All those comparisons are fair in their own way, and what we get with Macabre is a basic premise that doesn’t waste too much time with plot devices, and instead goes right for the violence almost instantly, and never lets up!
The set up is simple: Six friends are having a road trip to see off a husband and wife, who are embarking on a new life in a new country. The wife is pregnant, and the husband has asked his bar waitress sister to join them in the hope of fixing their troubled past (no need for details, it doesn’t matter). After meeting them all in a bar, they are instantly likeable, and this helps later on when you are obviously asked to root for them. As they set off on a stormy night to the airport, a woman blocks a country road and asks for their help. Claiming to have been robbed, the friends are cautious, but give her a lift home anyway (miraculously she is heading in the same direction!). Once at Maya’s (Therinne) house the group meet her Mother Dara (Daanish), well presented and respectful looking brother, and another brother who is fat and wears glasses. Dara insists they stay for dinner as a thankyou for saving her daughter, and with no option, the friends oblige.
What the group don’t know is that Dara is over 100 years old (even though she looks in her twenties), and what’s worse is her secret for staying young is eating human flesh, and babies are a particular delicacy. The friends are drugged, and within twenty minutes all hell quite literally breaks loose in a race for survival. When the violence begins, it never lets up, and I warn you now that a strong stomach is required to survive this blood bath.
People are stabbed, sliced, shot at, chainsawed, carved up, have arrows shot at them, limbs ripped and hacked off, arms and legs broken, some are set on fire, others strangled. The Mo Brothers use every trick in the book, and deliver one violent set piece after another, and shockingly the brutality only increases as the film moves along at breakneck pace. The finale itself has to be seen to be believed, and is a wonderful example of two directors flaunting their skills and admiration for the horror genre. Macabre is clichéd and predictable as hell, and all the better for it. Knowing what should comes next does not dampen the impact, because the Mo Brothers deliver what is expected with a sick, twisted level of humour as if they’re laughing at us. Why? Well, because they are simply saying: yes you know what comes next, but how about upping the violence, shedding more blood and basically taking things further than your wildest dreams. That is the genius of Macabre, it dares to push things to their absolute limits. Believability? Fuck that, these characters can fight on regardless, and who needs believability when you’re having this much fun.
The great thing about this film is you don’t want people to die too quickly, because that leaves less bodies to be broken, and the more characters still alive, the more fun the Mo Brothers can have torturing them. Macabre is a sick, violent, twisted gorefest if ever there was one, and horror fans will absolutely love it.
If I had to pick faults, it would sadly be in the production. I watched this on DVD, and it seems that the transfer has not been done well. Any scenes in the dark (and there are many) look hideous, and it is impossible to see what is happening. Characters turn into dark blue shadows in the black background, and it almost looks like a pirated VHS tape from back in the day when they had bugs in them to distort the picture quality. Hopefully, with the increasing love being generated for The Mo Brothers, Macabre will get a better release with a proper transfer soon. For now though, picture quality aside, I would still recommend this savage assault to any and all horrors fans. In fact, it is a must for any horror collector. Wildly entertaining, sadistic, violent and a brilliantly over the top gorefest that well and truly does not hold back. See it, but have a bucket handy!