Recommendations for Indonesian Horror Films

Indonesian cinema has a rich tradition of horror films that nana4d captivate audiences with their unique blend of folklore, supernatural elements, and cultural context. These films often explore deep-seated fears and local legends, making them a fascinating watch for horror enthusiasts. In this article, we will delve into some of the best Indonesian horror films, highlighting their plots, strengths, and why they are worth watching.

Classic Indonesian Horror Films

“Pengabdi Setan” (Satan’s Slaves, 1980)

“Pengabdi Setan,” directed by Sisworo Gautama Putra, is a classic Indonesian horror film that has left a lasting impact on the genre. The story revolves around a family that begins to experience supernatural events following the death of the mother. As the father turns to occult practices to cope with his loss, the family’s troubles escalate, leading to a series of terrifying events.

The film’s atmosphere is one of its strongest points, with eerie settings and a haunting soundtrack that amplify the sense of dread. The depiction of traditional Indonesian occult practices adds a unique cultural dimension to the horror. “Pengabdi Setan” is praised for its ability to build suspense and deliver genuine scares, making it a must-watch for fans of classic horror.

The 1980 version of “Pengabdi Setan” is often credited with laying the groundwork for many Indonesian horror films that followed. Its influence can be seen in the way subsequent films handle supernatural themes and cultural elements.

“Sundel Bolong” (1981)

“Sundel Bolong,” directed by Sisworo Gautama Putra, is another classic that delves into Indonesian folklore. The film tells the story of a woman who is raped and murdered, returning as a vengeful spirit known as a “sundel bolong” to seek revenge on those who wronged her. This ghost is characterized by her appearance, with a gaping hole in her back.

The film’s strength lies in its ability to weave folklore into a compelling narrative. The sundel bolong is a well-known figure in Indonesian mythology, and the film brings this ghostly legend to life with chilling effectiveness. The performance of Suzanna, who became iconic for her roles in horror films, adds to the film’s eerie atmosphere.

“Sundel Bolong” is a significant film in Indonesian horror history, not just for its scares but for its cultural resonance. It remains a beloved classic and a reference point for how traditional myths can be adapted into horror cinema.

“Misteri Rumah Tua” (1987)

Directed by H. Tjut Djalil, “Misteri Rumah Tua” is a classic horror film that takes place in a haunted house. The plot centers on a group of people who investigate a mysterious old house, only to encounter terrifying supernatural occurrences. The film builds tension through its creepy setting and unexpected twists.

“Misteri Rumah Tua” stands out for its atmospheric storytelling and the way it uses the haunted house trope. The film effectively utilizes sound and visual effects to create a sense of foreboding and suspense. It also explores themes of fear and curiosity, common in haunted house narratives.

The film is a testament to the enduring appeal of haunted house stories in horror cinema. Its success helped cement the haunted house as a staple setting in Indonesian horror films, influencing many later works.

“Ratu Ilmu Hitam” (The Queen of Black Magic, 1981)

“Ratu Ilmu Hitam,” directed by Liliek Sudjio, is a supernatural horror film that tells the story of a woman who, after being wronged, turns to black magic to exact her revenge. The film explores themes of betrayal, revenge, and the consequences of dabbling in dark forces.

The film’s portrayal of black magic is both fascinating and terrifying, offering a glimpse into traditional Indonesian beliefs about the supernatural. The special effects, while dated, add to the film’s charm and eerie atmosphere. The character of the Queen of Black Magic is both sympathetic and fearsome, making for a compelling antagonist.

“Ratu Ilmu Hitam” is notable for its intense and sometimes graphic depiction of supernatural retribution. It remains a significant film in the Indonesian horror canon for its exploration of dark themes and its memorable lead character.

Modern Indonesian Horror Films

“Pengabdi Setan” (Satan’s Slaves, 2017)

The 2017 remake of “Pengabdi Setan,” directed by Joko Anwar, revitalized the classic story for a new generation. The film follows a similar plot to the original, with a family experiencing supernatural disturbances after the death of the mother. However, Anwar’s version expands on the original with a richer backstory and more developed characters.

The 2017 remake is praised for its production quality, including impressive cinematography and sound design. The film effectively creates a chilling atmosphere that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. Joko Anwar’s direction ensures that the film is not just a rehash of the original but a fresh and compelling horror experience.

This modern take on “Pengabdi Setan” was both a critical and commercial success, solidifying its place as one of the best Indonesian horror films. It introduced international audiences to Indonesian horror cinema and highlighted the potential for modern updates of classic films.

“Sebelum Iblis Menjemput” (May the Devil Take You, 2018)

Directed by Timo Tjahjanto, “Sebelum Iblis Menjemput” is a modern horror film that draws inspiration from Western horror while incorporating Indonesian elements. The story follows a young woman who visits her estranged father’s house after he falls into a mysterious coma, only to uncover dark secrets and face malevolent supernatural forces.

The film’s strengths lie in its intense atmosphere, jump scares, and effective use of practical effects. Timo Tjahjanto’s direction keeps the tension high throughout, making for a gripping horror experience. The film also explores themes of family, guilt, and the consequences of past actions.

“Sebelum Iblis Menjemput” has been praised for its storytelling and the way it blends different horror styles. It demonstrates how Indonesian horror can innovate and stand out in the global horror landscape.

“Impetigore” (2019)

“Impetigore,” directed by Joko Anwar, is a horror film that delves deep into Indonesian folklore and rural superstitions. The story follows Maya, a woman who returns to her ancestral village seeking her inheritance, only to uncover a terrifying secret about her family’s past.

The film is renowned for its atmospheric storytelling and strong performances. The rural setting adds an element of isolation and dread, while the plot unfolds with several shocking twists. The film’s exploration of cultural themes and its attention to detail in depicting traditional beliefs make it stand out.

“Impetigore” received international acclaim and was Indonesia’s submission for the Best International Feature Film category at the 93rd Academy Awards. It is a prime example of how Indonesian horror can tell culturally rich and universally terrifying stories.

“Perempuan Tanah Jahanam” (Woman of the Damnation Land, 2019)

Another notable work by Joko Anwar, “Perempuan Tanah Jahanam” is a psychological horror film that tells the story of Maya and her friend Dini, who return to Maya’s ancestral village to uncover secrets about her heritage. They soon realize the village harbors dark secrets and a curse that threatens their lives.

The film excels in building a tense and creepy atmosphere, with strong character development and a compelling plot. The exploration of rural Indonesian settings and folklore adds depth to the narrative. The film’s pacing and suspenseful sequences keep viewers engaged from start to finish.

“Perempuan Tanah Jahanam” has been lauded for its storytelling, direction, and performances, making it a standout in contemporary Indonesian horror. It highlights Joko Anwar’s ability to craft intricate and terrifying stories that resonate with audiences both locally and internationally.

Cult Favorites and Lesser-Known Gems

“The Queen of Black Magic” (2019)

The 2019 remake of “Ratu Ilmu Hitam,” directed by Kimo Stamboel, offers a fresh take on the classic tale of revenge and black magic. The film centers on a group of friends who reunite at an orphanage, only to be haunted by a vengeful spirit from their past.

The remake modernizes the story while retaining the core elements that made the original a classic. It features strong performances, particularly from the female leads, and impressive special effects. The film’s exploration of themes like guilt, revenge, and the supernatural adds depth to the horror elements.

“The Queen of Black Magic” (2019) has been praised for its effective scares and strong narrative. It stands as a successful example of how classic horror stories can be reinvented for modern audiences.

“Macabre” (2009)

“Macabre,” directed by the Mo Brothers (Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel), is a cult favorite in Indonesian horror. The film follows a group of friends who encounter a mysterious woman and are subsequently lured to her family’s house, where they face gruesome and horrifying events.

The film is known for its intense violence and gore, making it a standout in the horror genre. The Mo Brothers’ direction keeps the tension high and the audience on edge. The film’s exploration of themes like trust, betrayal, and survival adds to its depth.

“Macabre” has garnered a cult following for its brutal and unrelenting approach to horror. It showcases the potential of Indonesian filmmakers to create horror films that are both shocking and compelling.

“Kafir: Bersekutu dengan Setan” (2018)

Directed by Azhar Kinoi Lubis, “Kafir: Bersekutu dengan Setan” is a horror film that combines supernatural elements with a gripping family drama. The story follows a family that experiences a series of supernatural events after the sudden death of the father. As they uncover dark secrets, they realize they are up against a powerful and malevolent force.

The film is praised for its strong performances, particularly from the lead actors, and its atmospheric storytelling. The use of traditional Indonesian elements, such as rituals and superstitions, adds authenticity to the horror. The film’s exploration of grief, loss, and the supernatural makes it a compelling watch.

“Kafir: Bersekutu dengan Setan” is notable for its effective blend of horror and drama. It demonstrates how Indonesian horror can tell emotionally resonant stories while delivering genuine scares.


Indonesian horror cinema offers a rich and diverse array of films that cater to different tastes within the genre. From classic films that explore traditional folklore to modern productions that push the boundaries of horror, there is something for every fan. These films not only provide scares but also offer insights into Indonesian culture and beliefs. Whether you are a seasoned horror aficionado or a newcomer to the genre, these recommended films are sure to provide a thrilling and unforgettable experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *