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rochefort [Film Festival 03.21.12] horror thriller



Year: 2012
Directors: Joko Anwar
Writers: Joko Anwar
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 4 out of 10

Modus Anomali an extremely minimal Indonesian survival thriller that will seem one way on first viewing, and completely different on the second. That is, if you give it a second viewing, because regardless of the manner in which the twists redeem certain aspects of the story, large chunks of the film are flat and unsalvageable.


A man (Rio Dewanto) awakens in the middle of a massive forest, and doesn't know how he got there or who he is. Every clue he finds seems to indicate that he is a father whose family was attacked by a masked stranger, and now the stranger is hunting both the man and his children through the woods. But where did the stranger come from, and is he hunting the children, too? And why are there buried alarm clocks everywhere?

A "mystery box" thriller that owes as much to "The Most Dangerous Game" as it does to "Lost", director Joko Anwar's "Modus Anomali" is another one of those films that is particularly difficult to review if one would prefer to not ruin an audience's chance of having a good time at the movies. And if you've followed any hype for this movie (or seen the trailer), then it makes it even more difficult to get very detailed without contradicting some of the very crafty misdirection going on in the marketing material. Suffice to say that this is an extremely minimal Indonesian survival thriller that will seem one way on first viewing, and completely different on the second. That is, if you give it a second viewing, because regardless of the manner in which the twists redeem certain aspects of the story, large chunks of the film are flat and unsalvageable.

"Modus" was shot on a shoestring budget, and while the film looks good, it never leaves its forest setting. The never-named main character spends the bulk of the nearly wordless first half searching the woods, following strange noises, exploring the random house, and occasionally running away from a masked hunter. Initially the scenes work, especially early on when the Man stumbles upon the vacation home that he believes was actually his. Inside he finds a tv with a camera that's pre-loaded with footage of a murder, and the victim may very well be his wife. But subsequent trips back into the woods soon get repetitive. There are only so many ways to shoot a guy running through the trees, you know?

And perhaps the most frustrating part of the picture is the casting, more specifically the choice to make an English-language movie with a cast that frequently has some difficulty with the language, and the performances suffer almost across the board. Add to that a tendency to let scenes wander and seriously outstay their welcome, and you've got a movie that feels very long indeed. By the time I started getting confirmations as to what I suspected was actually going on, I was pretty much ready for it to be over.

To be fair, the climax did wake me up a bit, and some of the final developments actually brought certain earlier scenes into better focus. And even though I honestly wasn't shocked by the truth behind the mystery, Anwar does a good job of bringing all the pieces together into a coherent whole. But by that point I was too far gone to fully reinvest, and couldn't really applaud the only marginally clever final moments. Maybe it's Twist Fatigue, or the result of seeing too many low-budget, one-gimmick movies in a row, but "Modus Anomali" is not all that enjoyable a movie, and sticks in the memory for mostly the wrong reasons.

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Bayu Pratama (7 years ago) Reply

you have to watch Anwar's earlier work, Pintu Terlarang in order to comprehend his style


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