The Queen of Black Magic
Directed by Kimo Stamboel
Ratu Ilmu Hitam, or The Queen of Black Magic, is a remake of the 1981 Indonesian film of the same name. While the setup differs from the original, the threat remains the same. The 2021 version follows Hanif (Ario Bayu) and his family as they return to the orphanage where he grew up to pay respects to the
dying owner who raised them. From there, all sorts of gruesome terrors are visited upon these characters.
Body horror fans should be satiated with the movie. While not on David Cronenberg’s level, there’s enough here — usually involving hundreds of centipedes — to scratch that particular genre itch. ( That being said, there is a not-insignificant amount of violence involving children, so if that’s your line when it comes to horror, then stay away.)
In contrast to far too many horror movies — and lots of movies in general — the child actors here don’t suck. Muzakki Ramdhan, who plays Hanif ’s son Haqi, is a particular standout.
The cast here largely avoids the bad decision-making that plagues horror movie characters, given their supernatural circumstances, although the film does suffer somewhat from a lack of a strong central character. Once Hanif and his family arrive at the orphanage, we’re introduced to his other grown orphan friends and their spouses, the current orphan children, and those working at the orphanage. This scattershot focus is exacerbated by the repetitious exposition.
There are a few twists to the narrative that, while nothing groundbreaking, are well done. The effects work is great, and, outside of a few false notes in the climax, the violence is over-thetop and sustained. At the end of the day, it’s got blood, screams, gore and bugs. (Shudder)