Nightstream 2020: THE QUEEN OF BLACK MAGIC is a Gore Filled Visceral Gut Punch

In horror films terrible things tend to happen in orphanages, that’s just the way it is, and The Queen Of Black Magic (Ratu Ilmu Hitam) is no exception. The film is a gore filled visceral gut punch that has Indonesian filmmakers taking on the festival circuit yet again, with another remake of a local horror classic. Directed by Kimo Stamboel (one half of the Mo Brothers), and written by Joko Anwar who penned the excellent Satan’s Slaves, the film is the story of three men who return to the orphanage where they were raised with their families in tow, to pay their respects to the dying caretaker who was like a father to them. During their visit they uncover a shocking secret that involves a female caretaker, who was believed to have been practicing black magic and sacrificed three girls by burning them alive.

In the opening moments when one of the families hits what they think is only a deer, which is revealed to be a young girl – the film immediately bares its snarling teeth. This clues the audience in director Stamboel isn’t going to hold anything back; and he doesn’t. As the families arrive at the orphanage the caretaker’s secrets one by one come to get our guests, as the story that takes some unexpected turns. The film definitely has something admirable it’s trying to say, but it does so with some pretty effective scares, heaping amounts of gore and more than a few scenes of cringe inducing body horror. I should probably just say, this film is definitely not for the squeamish.

That being said, the film is also filled with some very engaging performances from a cast that attempt to do their best, with the madness they are tasked with from scene to scene. The SFX here for the most part works even though it leans a bit too much digitally for my taste, and that results in a few scenes that feel a bit too artificial. The Queen Of Black Magic is the goriest and quite possibly the most disturbing film of 2020, so far, and I mean that in the most affectionate way possible. If you miss it at Nightstream it has already been picked up and will be screening on Shudder shortly, along with another Indonesian film that also screened at the fest, May the Devil Take You Too.

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