When the premier of Joko Anwar’s latest thriller ‘Modus Anomali’ was over, the Indonesian twitter sphere exploded with exclamations of praise. Famous online personalities stumbled all over themselves to heap accolades on the new movie. The word ‘mindfuck’ was thrown about with gusto, like Indonesian politicians liberally use ‘kerakyatan’.
I wasn’t surprised. I liked Joko’s previous films. Kala is still my favorite. I’ve watched that DVD maybe 10-12 times now. Pintu Terlarang is really good too. It was tense, it was twisted, it was something refreshing to see in Indonesian movies. So I expected that reaction from Modus Anomali’s audience. I was thrilled. And check out the trailer below. It got me excited.
So last night I decided to let my mind be fucked. Off I went to see the movie, expecting more of Joko’s mindfuckery. Yes, you guessed it. This is my review of Modus Anomali.
Before we get to it let me get something off this chest: You motherfuckers who go to theaters to see movies need to learn to shut the fuck up. Seriously. My experience of the film was severely damaged by people who insist on tittering along as the movie played out. And this was not just one or two people. This was a LOT of people. Commenting to your friends about something in the movie is good. Hell, its part of the fun of watching movies. But do it quietly, and do it quickly. You should not engage in prolonged, loud, dialectical debate about whatever it was that crossed your mind during the film. Oh for the love of everything holy, police your fucking phones! Simple concepts people. Simple concepts.
Anyway, off to the movie.
It started well. In typical Joko Anwar style, it seeked to shock the audience in the opening minutes. It more or less achieved that despite my expectations of a shocking opening from a Joko Anwar movie. However, I’m sad to have to say, that the movie went downhill from there.
The twists were predictable. When a character got killed (well, the first character to be killed after the opening), my reaction was honestly: :”Well, yeah. Who else?” After that I knew what was what. It was clear to see who was going to be killed next. Even more sadly, it was clear to see who was the actual killer. When the ‘box of truth’ was finally introduced, my reaction was ‘You have GOT to be kidding me.’
Unlike previous Joko movies, there wasn’t a single tense moment in it for me. Oh there were the usual movie trick surprise shots here and there and I, along with everyone else, was dutifully surprised, but then the realization that you knew what was about to happen sunk in, and the experience evaporated.
Then there are the characters. To call them cliché would be an understatement. The weak brother, the stronger sister…come on. Where’s the Joko thrill? The roller coaster ride (see? Another cliché) into insanity that leave the audience breathless?
The final scene where the movie tried to explain the killer’s methodology was disappointing. It would be much better to end it when he drove away, but nope, no such luck. With all the tenseness gone, the movie was prolonged to include yet more kills. Explaining something that the audience already knew, further taking away what (little) mystery it had left.
As to the mindfuck, I wonder where all this hero worship came from. If you grew up watching the ‘Twilight Zone’ or ‘Outer Limits’ on TV like I did when I was a kid (remember those early RCTI days?), there was no mindfuck there. Or maybe the mindfuck standards of movie goers has changed without me knowing? Maybe.
So TL:DR: Modus Anomali was a predictable journey. Like that old carnival ride that you’ve seen copied in every other carnival in the world, and riders that pretended to enjoy a renewed thrill everytime they ride it. I expected more.