FILM REVIEW: Death Whisper (Sunyi)
Abdi Bangsa High School is an elite school with a reputable alumni. For Alex, being accepted here is nothing special because the culture of seniority at Abdi Bangsa High School is nothing but physical and mental violence. Luckily, Alex has found Maggie, a junior student who becomes his best friend. Creepy incidents and hauntings are nonstop after three seniors Andre, Erika and Fahri force Alex to participate in a ritual to call the spirits.
Director: Awi Suryadi
Cast: Amanda Rawles, Angga Aldi, Arya Vasco, Naomi Paulinda, Teuku Ryzki
Language: Bahasa Indonesia with English and Chinese subtitles
Runtime: 91 min
Review by Nadia Alang
Death Whisper (Sunyi) is based on the critically acclaimed 1998 Korean horror franchise, Whispering Corridors; it explores anti-fascism commentaries under the guise of a horror story about student suicides caused by bullying. As an adaptation, Death Whisper did an exceptional job but as a horror movie, it passably did its job to scare.
Combining a high school drama narrative with an anti-bullying message while still trying to be scary makes this a very convoluted plot. It could have been more coherent without the abruptly-inserted references to Whispering Corridors and some other awkwardly-cut scenes. Nonetheless, the plot was so well-written that it left behind very few plot-holes.
Although the horror element felt slightly forced at some points, the scare factor was still there for the most part. The school is a run-down building that makes it look like a haunted house, and the make-up and cold hues made every character look pale and lifeless. The make-up worked well for the ghosts too – that was scary.
I am personally terrified of jump-scares so lucky for me, there were not a lot of those here. Instead, we get equally haunting moments with powerful sound effects and drawn-out suspense that got me squirming in my seat.
It also helped that there were some traces of humour to lighten the mood of the film, which got a little depressing with the unchanging cold-saturated tones. My understanding of Bahasa Indonesia meant that the jokes were not lost in translation for me although some do tend to go quickly from funny to cringey.
Although the characters are pretty unoriginal, with your average wimpy kid getting pushed around by your typical high school bullies, the actors performed their characters well enough to make the whole dynamic more interesting. Plus, the comic relief character, Andre, as played by Aarya Vasco performed humour well, making up for the times when the dialogue scenes felt draggy.
Overall, this is one of those ambitious films that tries to be everything – scary, funny, and even heart-warming at some points. This may take away the horror factor for some but it is this rollercoaster of emotions that made the film enjoyable for me.