“... There's Fun To Be Had During The Last Twenty-minute Massacre, But Viewers Will Have Rolled Their Eyes Well Out Of The Sockets Before Then...”
November 13th, 2013
In the last two years, Indonesian filmmaking has acquired a notable following in the states with such film as THE RAID, V/H/S/2's "Safe Haven" and the upcoming serial killer flick, well, KILLERS. While we wait on such a vicious display of barbarity and I count down the months before THE RAID 2: BERANDUL seizes all of my attention and time, The Mo Brothers' MACABRE has finally made its way stateside to satiate the filmgoer's downtime. Recently released under Blood-Disgusting's "Bloody Selects" banner, MACABRE plays as an Indonesian take on THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, or more recently, FRONTIER(S). However, unlike those two classics, MACABRE falters heavily during its second and third act with appallingly bad characterization, continuity and questionably tonal shifts.
Beginning like every other horror film of the same kind, MACABRE follows a group of friends (some of which are related) as they happen upon a strange girl who leads them to an even stranger villa. Here, the group meet the odd girl's family: a silent, obese man; a creepy, thin man and the matriarch--a steely-eyed woman named Dara. For a poorly explained reason, the friends all stay for a dinner, despite EVERY possible element of fate telling them that they should leave. During their feast, two compatriots of the group (the husband and pregnant wife) head upstairs for rest while those remaining are drugged at the dining room table. From here, the tale of survival is split into two rather different sections. One, which plays like the bathroom sequence from INSIDE and the other, which plays like the entirety of FRONTIER(S).
Sadly, both portions are so rife with error that it truly becomes hard to enjoy them, even as the madness builds into a chainsaw swinging duel of psychopathic, head-ripping, fire-blazing mayhem. As soon as the chaos begins, characters make choices which are so bereft of knowledge, that they'd make any character from EVERY Friday the 13th look like scholars. One scene has the husband character pursued by a knife-wielding antagonist. During this frenetic moment, the husband just. . . Well, he doesn't trip. . . He doesn't sprain his ankle. . . He literally. . . Just kind of. . . Lays down. Yeah. . . Even re-watching the sequence, I couldn't tell what was supposed to happen, but I believe he missed his cue and tried to play it off. Directly following this, his panicked wife who fled into a bathroom, get this, PUTS HER HEAD TO THE DOOR OF THE BATHROOM so that she might listen to the villain who she already knows is on the other side. I won't spoil anything, but let's just say if a guy knows you're putting against a door and he's on the other side with a hunting knife. . . Yup. . .
Soon after this, we see our other group of survivors tied with rope. The funny thing? They're al tied in such a way that one can literally lift the binds over their shoulder, off of their head and flee to safety. But they don't. Added to this, nearly every scene has the protagonists breaking down. I'm sorry, but after the initial shock of such an incident occurs, adrenaline kicks in. Not here. Even after the victims overcome their adversary, the very next moment has them crying, bitching and moaning. It gets extremely annoying the nth time an idiot breaks down because he "wants to go home". What's especially worse is that they break down WHILE they are still being pursued.
During the latter portion of the second act, a handful of idiotic police officers arrive on scene to further f*ck with the tone. While the film definitely contains its heft of camp here and there, these buffoons of the law transcend such mild attempts at dark humor and alter it into a joke. Each are introduced as mere meat-bags for cleaver, guns and even stilettos. What further upset me is the way in which their deaths all occur. It's all in the same room, but the film treats each character as if they're half-way around the world. One moment has a character--literally standing right next to his cohorts--stabbed in the belly as he begins moaning in pain. However, the police around him do NOTHING. Directly after him, another officer is attacked with a sickle and screams-NO ONE pays attention. Like, the terrible film, THE PURGE, each moment of action seems to take place in its own world (without consequence), despite being condensed to a single location and often times, a single room.
As the film barrels along, it also breaks continuity. Sometimes, this noticeably occurs from shot-to-shot, other times it's far sloppier. Several moments toward the end raise brows as during one sequence, a sorry sap is blasted in the head by a rifle and her body is rag-dolled backward twenty feet. The following shots however, depict her in a different location with nary a wound to show for it. One villain is also gut-shot, but the very next time we see him, it's gone. And then there's the entire fire. . . That is seemingly snuffed off-camera as soon as it ignites.
While the dread-inducing atmosphere, grim cinematography akin to Laurent Bares and climactic orgy of bloodshed are commendable, it's all crushed under the weight an ungodly lack of logic which derides the film's positives into a realm of disappointment. The Mo Brothers had all of the pieces lined up for something special, but they've tarnished a good thing by playing into clichés without a single reason as to why. MACABRE could have been the Indonesian answer to French New Wave and American classicism, but it's honestly too idiotic, anger-inducing and technically flawed for even myself to defend. There's fun to be had during the last twenty-minute massacre, but viewers will have rolled their eyes well out of the sockets before then.