Joko Anwar’s astounding new psycho-thriller works on more levels than you can count. The retro-styled credit sequence suggests the 1950s, which maybe explains some disorienting timewarp details in the present-day urban setting. Gambir is a fashionable sculptor who specialises in figures of pregnant women, but he’s been impotent ever since his wife aborted their child before their wedding. Patronised by his mother, he finds himself haunted by plaintive cries for help, seemingly from a young boy. Behind the forbidden doors of a secretive members’ club called Herosase (it’s an anagram) he discovers a selection of CCTV channels, each a window on a horrifying reality; one channel shows a house in which a young boy suffers hideous abuse at the hands of his parents. Gambir determines to find the house and save the boy. But all is not as it seems… Anwar provides an orthodox ending, which patly explains the whole mystery – and then gives us the real ending, which changes everything. Like his The Secret (which also starred Fachri Albar), Forbidden Door evokes other filmmakers and genres while going its own unclassifiable way. There will, of course, be blood. —bfi
Joko Anwar was born in 3 January 1976 in a poor kampong in Medan, North Sumatera where he grew up watching kung fu movies and horror films. He had also written and directed plays as a student. He went to Institut Teknologi Bandung to study Aerospace Engineering because his family could not afford to send him to a film school. After graduated in 1999, he became a journalist at The Jakarta Post and later a film critic.
During an interview with Nia Dinata for The Jakarta Post, the film producer was impressed and asked him to write for her new project which was later titled Arisan! (2003). The film earned commercial and critical success and won numerous awards including “Best Film” at the 2005 Indonesian Film Festival and “Best Movie” at the 2004 MTV Indonesia Movie Awards. He went on to direct a feature film, the romantic comedy Janji Joni (Joni’s Promise) (2005), which he wrote when he was in college in 1998. This feature directorial debut was the #1 box office hit in Indonesia… read more
Applaud for the ambition! A breakthrough in thriller genre for Indonesian cinema. I hope this will mark the sign for the wake-up of Indonesian film industry! The problem of the movie is that it's a little too ambitious; it starts out strong, then seemingly convoluted, and in the end it leaves the viewer thinking ‘wtf?’. But aside from it, the tone and atmosphere is skillfully constructed with the noir art direction.
“An open mind is advised,” claim the (typically, very funny) trailers for this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, but I will admit