Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Satan’s Slaves: Communion, on Shudder

There are two ironclad laws of horror films: the Devil always gets his due and it is never just one. In the previous film, Rini Suwono lost her youngest brother Ian to the satanic cult her late mother had joined, but it could have been far worse. Their family remains united, just a little smaller. Based on the conclusion of the first film, we know they are still be watched. Unfortunately, they found a new home in the worst possible apartment building. The bad things about to happen there will be related to the bad stuff from before in Joko Anwar’s sequel, Satan’s Slaves: Communion, which premieres tomorrow on Shudder.

The Suwono family doesn’t really listen to their late, demonic mother’s old pagan folk records anymore, but someone in the building does. Rini has largely forgone a life of her own to take care of her traumatized siblings. Somehow, the family narrowly escapes another tragedy when the building elevator crashes, because their father Bahri walks away with only comparatively minor injuries. Even he is unsure how or why he was so fortunate. However, as the ten bodies lay at-rest, awaiting funeral rites, all heck breaks loose.

A freak storm cuts off power and transportation to the building. That is always a distressing portent in horror movies. Yet, the building seems weirdly empty, as if a lot of residents knew it was coming. Bad stuff is definitely happening to those who are left, including Tari Daryati, the new crush of Rini’s older brother. You can tell Anwar is pretty darn bold when it comes to horror, because he has the evil forces attack Daryati during her prayers. Maybe the lapsed Muslim is a little too lapsed, but they don’t seem to work. Like the last time, Budiman Syailendra, an expert in the occult, might have some answers, but he is cut-off by the floodwater.

continues the story of Anwar’s original Satan’s Slaves (which was technically a remake) in ways that are consistent in theme and tone to the prior film. This film has a larger scale, but the supernaturally powerful cult is just as malevolent and their interest is just as personal as it was before.

However, the prologue that establishes Syailendra’s backstory is a vividly eerie origin story that should well-satisfy fans of the first film. Intriguingly, the 1955 Bandung conference of former colonial, “Non-Aligned” nations is also referenced in a potentially sinister way, risking the wrath of “de-colonizing” film critics (at least if they understood the history of the event). Honestly, Anwar is one heck of a bold filmmaker.

He also instills a similarly tense atmosphere of dread throughout
Communion. The building is a powerful location that just seems to radiate bad vibes. In terms of look and feel, it is almost like the demonic horror cousin to The Raid: Redemption.

Satan’s Slaves: Communion
maintains Anwar’s reputation as one of the best horror filmmakers working in the genre today. It is also one of the best horror true-sequels of the year (far superior to V/H/S/99 or Halloween Ends). Highly recommended, it starts streaming Friday (11/4) on Shudder.