Sequel Satan’s Slaves: Communion (2022) Serves Up Seriously Sinister Energy
Title: Satan’s Slaves: Communion
First Non-Festival Release: August 4, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Joko Anwar
Writer: Joko Anwar
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Starring: Tara Basro, Endy Arfian, Nasar Annuz
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Rebuilding their tumultuous lives after their youngest brother was kidnapped by the death cult their late mother joined, a family attempts to regain some sense of normalcy at home in a cramped apartment complex. Even three years later, they still feel the effects of that terrible night in the woods. Nevertheless Rini (Tara Basro) plans on returning to university, Toni (Endy Arfian) finds himself fawning over a new neighbor, and Bondi (Nasar Annuz) befriends several kids in the building. All seems well until the power goes out during a powerful storm and their personal demons finally catch up to them.
A positively unnerving and terrifying sequel, Satan’s Slaves: Communion is smart and action-packed continuation of a creepy story.
Picking up several years after the events of the first film, Satan’s Slaves: Communion manages to make several key changes to the Indonesian folk horror formula to shake up expectations. Changing the setting from a remote family house in the forest to a struggling apartment complex on the outskirts of town maintains the same element of isolation while adding additional players into the story. Suddenly, the grief-stricken family isn’t the only ones fighting for their lives against the demonic force. Instead, they accumulate allies who do their best to support them through the worst of it.
Giving the family several years to grieve and process from the events of the first film, this sequel addresses what it means to truly move on from trauma. Much of the conversations had between character surround their desire to move on whether that’s expressing attraction for potential partners, preparing for college, or processing their childhood trauma, there is an element of movement in their stories that give them more agency than what is typically found in horror sequels.
Joko Anwar has an incredible sense of tone and direction that makes this sequel a harrowing haunted house of horrors. From the ominous apartment building to the harrowing effects of the hurricane, this sequel is dripping in pure, fraught terror. Realizing how isolated the group is and how unwilling the people around them are to help makes their circumstances even more unsettling. These kids are on their own. The adults in the room are clueless or culpable, which makes the stakes even higher.
Quite possibly touting the best executed gore sequences of the year, Satan’s Slaves: Communion shines in its execution of fear. Anwar has an amazing talent of coaxing the biggest fright out of viewers through tight cinematography and clever camerawork. The apartment complex comes alive in the best of ways through his vision. Otherwise ordinary fixtures emerge as terrifying purveyors of torture and fear, which shows just how well the setting is used to its advantage. It doesn’t hurt that the special effects team does amazing work between the various spirits and death sequences to make Satan’s Slaves: Communion as realistically scary as one can.
Truthfully, the only downside of this sequel is its pacing. Spread out over the course of two hours, it sometimes gets over bloated in terms of storytelling. Scares get drawn out before losing their steam, conversations get circuitous without learning anything new from the characters or story, and a few subplots take up more time than what might be necessary. In fact, one disappointing ending scene ties the two films together but fails to address why certain characters involvements have been contained to afterthoughts in the finales of both films without payoff. The indulgence is real in Satan’s Slaves: Communion but it doesn’t take away from the true terror that grips the audience by the time it finishes.
Indonesian horror is on fire right now, with Satan’s Slaves: Communion just another reminder of how consistently remarkable this country’s film scene is for supernatural horror. Filled to the brim with dread inducing imagery and frightening sequences, this sequel takes everything good about the original film and turns it up to eleven. Focusing more on scares than anything, Joko Anwar manages to push the story in an interesting direction without showing all his cards. Fans of the original should be enamored with this offering while all newcomers will surely be indoctrinated into following it much like its central cult follows the devil.
Overall Score? 8/10