The Queen of Black Magic (aka Ratu Ilmu Hitam) (2019)

The Queen of Black Magic (aka Ratu Ilmu Hitam) (2019) MOVIE DETAILS
Name: The Queen of Black Magic (aka Ratu Ilmu Hitam)
Year: 2019
Country: Indonesia
Director: Kimo Stamboel
Main cast: Ario Bayu, Hannah Al Rashid, Adhisty Zara
Runtime: 99 minutes
Production company: Rapi Films, SkyMedia, Screenplay Films

Well, let’s say it without hesitation, without flourishes or redundant text. The Queen of Black Magic (2019) (Ratu Ilmu Hitam in original Indonesian language) is one of the scariest films I have seen in a few years. It might have some of the common stereotypes of the genre, but that movie is evil, real evil. Director Kimo Stamboel has done a very good job with it.

In the movie, three young men decide to take their wives and children to the orphanage where they grew up to pay their respects to the old man who raised them. What they don’t know is that the orphanage that saw them grow up is haunted by terrible secrets and the presence of something dark and terrifying. That is what the official plot reads. And, with that, I thought the movie was going to follow the trail of May The Devil Take You (aka Sebelum Iblis Menjemput) (2018) [read our review here], the latest movie of Timo Tjahjanto, the former partner of Kimo Stamboel when they were The Mo Brothers, creators of hit films like Macabre (2009), Killers (2014), and Headshot (2016). But, although both movies have a very similar start point and several events in common, they both are quite different.

This film has a very limited list of characters, which keeps things simpler. And, as happens in this sort of movies, the first half-hour of the running time is used to introduce the characters, a little bit of their background, nothing more than the necessary but enough to picture all of them with their strengths and their weaknesses, with their fears and their obsessions. But, then, hell breaks loose. Although the structure and the start point might sound like something we have seen several times before, The Queen of Black Magic (2019) is the kind of movie that after a few mind-blowing surprises one stops pretending to predict what is to happen and just sits and watches, absorbs the action, and gets terrified for the shit going on on the screen.

Because, yes, I think the screenplay written by Joko Anwar, another Indonesian filmmaker with an attractive career in horror films, is a box full of surprises that get delivered in a very astute dosage. Some times, drop by drop, but some other times they flow non-stop in a shower of madness. The movie gets to scare you, the atmosphere is very effective thanks to the horrifying soundtrack, the decadent set decorations, and the skilled use of the camera Kimo Stamboel imprints along the entire running time, both when the calm or the tempest are dominating.

The acting is perfect, with both the adults and younger actors. The audience shares the surprises and goes on discovering what secrets are hidden in that orphanage wicked together with the characters in the film. And Kimo Stamboel does whatever he wants with us. He knows when to make us feel comfortable, when to generate doubts in our heads, and when to scare the shit out of us. Since the very first second.

For me, The Queen of Black Magic (2019) is almost the perfect horror film. Except for the ending, where I won’t enter into details to avoid spoilers but, after all, the witnessed for an hour and a half I would had expected a not so predictable closure. Still, that won’t foul the global performance of the movie, it stays as a very solid and remarkable piece of true horror. A must-see for all the fans of the genre.

RATE: 7/10


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