A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that May the Devil Take You is a 2018 Indonesian horror movie in which a man sells his soul to the devil to become wealthy and his loved ones suffer the consequences. Expect lots of blood, gore, and demonic imagery. Blood drools, runs, and vomits out of the mouths of the characters. Characters clubbed to death with hammers, decapitated, beaten with shovels, stabbed in the heart, and burned alive. Skin ripped off of a face. Ankles and arms twisted with the help of a voodoo doll. A mother who has turned into a zombie is beaten with a flashlight. Choking. Satanic ritual shown, complete with pentagrams and goat's head. Occasional profanity, including "f--k." The mother of the lead character committed suicide. A sister, possessed by a demon, attempts to passionately kiss her brother. While not quite as gory as other horror movies of the "splatter" subgenre, nonetheless, this is definitely not for the squeamish.
What's the story?
In MAY THE DEVIL TAKE YOU, in order to become wealthy, Lesmana invites a demonic priestess into his rundown rural villa. In the basement, she conducts a satanic ritual with the requisite pentagram and goat's head. Soon, Lesmana becomes rich and successful. But his first wife commits suicide, and ten years later, Lesmana has lost his fortune and is now dying in a hospital. Shortly after his passing, Alfie, the streetwise daughter from Lesmana's first marriage, returns to the villa of her childhood. To her dismay, she's followed shortly after by her father's greedy second wife and Alfie's stepbrother Ruben and stepsisters Maya and Nara. Alfie loathes them all, and resents her father for abandoning her in favor of the new family. Lesmana's second wife and kids want only to sell the villa to the highest bidder and take the money, but when Ruben pries open the nailed-shut basement door, he unleashes demons who have come to collect on the deal his father made. As demonic possession and zombie reanimation takes over the villa, Alfie must find a way to save herself and her stepsiblings and end the curse once and for all.
Is it any good?
Like his martial arts splatter-fest The Night Comes for Us, director Timo Tjahjanto's film suffers from a self-indulgent bombast and excess that drowns out the story itself. While it's expected that a horror movie will have exaggerated levels of cold-sweat suspense and visceral mayhem, in this case, there are so many scenes of mouths oozing, spewing, and gushing blood that it becomes redundant. The ambition of trying to combine assorted subgenres of horror -- haunted house, zombie, demonic possession -- overwhelms and exhausts. While the filmmakers accomplished a lot with the budget they had, the acting is strong on the whole, and there's plenty to work with in terms of the relationships between the characters, it's clear that Tjahjanto seems to see all of that as little more than a pretense to decapitate some heads, rip some skin off some faces, and crush some skulls with a hammer.
The result is a movie that's almost there, but not quite. Throwing as much blood against the wall as possible to see how much of it sticks isn't an innovation, a distinctive style, or even all that original. May the Devil Take You is just a lot of flash and not a lot of substance.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about gory horror movies. How does May the Devil Take You compare to other horror movies in which there's a lot of blood and characters are killed in a variety of gruesome ways?
How does this compare to other "haunted house" movies you've seen?
How does the movie combine different types of horror stories, such as demonic possession, zombies, haunted house, etc.?
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