“It blends all the formula and the recurring horror gimmicks for the sake of bringing the entertainment for horror fans. It sure has its flaws, but for some reasons, 7 Bidadari will likely gain some cult followers.”
7 Bidadari ( 7 Angels) mixes several approaches in horror genre. There’s an element of supranatural horror, bumpkin and redneck (a kind of “unofficial” sub-genre that plays on the myth of backwood and a relatively remote countryside that is filled with freaks and maniacs), pyschological thriller, gore and slasher. And even there’s an obvious influence of J-horror movies. 7 Bidadari doesn’t shy away from the cliche all the horror movies have introduced before, in the likes of Hostel, The Possesion, or Blair Witch Project to Gonjiam Haunted Asylum. It blends all the formula and the recurring horror gimmicks for the sake of bringing the entertainment for horror fans. It sure has its flaws, but for some reasons, 7 Bidadari will likely gain some cult followers.
7 Bidadari refers to the members of a fictional famous Indonesian girl band with the same name who visit Victoria, Australia, with the purpose to go on a vacation while taking some shots for their next music video. These 7 angels are played by women with different traits defined by their pyshical looks: Lia Waode, Dara Warganegara, Gigi “Cherrybelle”, Camelia Putri, Salini Rengganis, Gabriella Desta and Ade Ayu Agustin. Together, these 7 lovely angels, have their time being interviewed by a radio journalist for a local radio programme. Never crosses their mind that the interview will lead them to a horrific event they could ever imagine.
At a local bar, these women happen to meet a local singer named Mark (William D McLennan) whose voice and physical look charms them. A casual conversation and flirting brings the members of 7 Angels accepting Mark invitation to have a sighseeing tour in Aradale Mental Hospital, a more than 150 years old site that’s been claimed as one of the most haunted places in Australia. And as predicted, the tour goes from fun to the terrifying 7-hours-experience one.
7 Bidadari is directed by Muhammad Yusuf whose tendency to bring his story in a full circle as he previously showed in Tebus. 7 Bidadari opens with an epilogue as the teaser and also an epigraph for the story before it closes with the same sequence. The choice creates the illusion of a full circle story as a whole, not as a collection of fragments.
In this 9th directorial efforts and the second feature that were filmed in Australia after The Curse (2017), Yusuf shot his story on the real location of Aradale Asylum and he clearly tries to exploit the location in order to bring the effect of teror to the maximum level. The Victorian-architecture-E-plans-barrack site is the true character here since it serves a function, not only as a backkground, but the tool of terror. This function is emphasized by the opening text of this movie, stating that Aradale is famous for its creeepines and as the part of urban myth.
Since the Aradale Asylum becomes the most pivotal part of the story, the story of 7 Bidadari sets in daylight which is a relatively uncommon treatment for a horror movie that mostly builds its terror in the dark situation. Some terror and horor in 7 Bidadari event takes place in a open space with a plenty source of sunlight.
To capture the intensity and the creepiness of the location, Yusuf worked with Farro Fauzi and Satya Ginong as cinematographer by gliding the camera in dynamic ways, even in 360 degrees style in a scene which Lia Waode character envisions some of the forecasts that has something to do with their communal faith.
As stylish as it is in cinematography, the editing by Azis Nurmawan often works in fast-paced manner. It’s frequently using jump-cut-away editing style to intensify the terorr and the illusion of time paradox in the Asylum Aradale. Yes, the idea of 7 Bidadari is the time in the asylum works paradoxically compared to outside normal world. In the Aradale Asylum that’s filled with supranatural energies, time flies by and jumps out in no chronological order. It fasts forwards and sometimes backwards as the mystery and the twist unfolds.
Sure, the script by Muhammad Yusuf, Konfir Kabo, King Javed and Resika Tikoalu at times doesn’t grip enough the suspense. The plot and characterization leaps and jumps out inconsistently. And this movie seems to play some trick to have a more friendly rating by avoiding a gory depiction of the death and murder. But 7 Bidadari, I suspect, will gain the cult followers for its campy quality.
Judging from its treatement, 7 Bidadari seems to be the first of continous universe of Shu-yin to come.
NOW PLAYING in INDONESIAN THEATERS.
Reviewed at Blok M Square XXI on November 6, 2018.
Running times: 90 minutes
A Triple A Films in collaboration with State Government of Victoria presentation
Executive producer: Konfir Kabo
Producer: Resika Tikoalu
Director: Muhammad Yusuf
Screenplay: Muhammad Yusuf, Konfir Kabo, King Javed, Resika Tikoalu
Cinematography: Farro Fauzi, Satya Ginong
Editing: Azis Nurawan
Casts: Lia Waode, Dara Warganegara, Gigi “Cherrybelle”, Camelia Putri, Salini Rengganis, Gabriella Desta, Ade Ayu Agustin, William D. McLennan