With middling efforts for his Danur, Awi Suryadi returns with a full-on homage to South Korea’s Whispering Corridors with his own Death Whisper.
The fanboy moments range from the hangeul characters that appear during titling, to actual references to the original with the appearance of the DVD. And while this seems to point at a possibly chummy-but-crummy product, Death Whisper actually shines as a remake!
Staying away from directly lifting off of Corridors, Suryadi and his partner screenwriter Agasyah Kharim has instead harnessed key tropes such as the creepy school environment, social messaging and plot twist to fulfil another satisfying title. While production values are inconsistent across the board, with the biggest failings in the lighting and soundtrack department, the film still shows remarkable potential and talent in the camerawork to keep it going strong. Even the make-up, which is usually heavy-handed in Indonesian productions, work out in their scenes. The addition of a psychic father to the main character Alex (Angga Yunanda) is a genius stroke, tying in local supernatural flair.
While Corridors revolved around the steely cages of authoritarianism, Death Whispers dealt keenly with bullying, which is a far more prevalent issue in this age. As Alex gets forced into a corner and his bullies start to suffer consequences, there is a satisfying vengeance theme that works its way to the unsurprising forgiveness discussion. It’s not reinventing the wheel but the film rolls along just fine, secured by steady pacing.
Indonesian horror has been seeing somewhat of a small resurgence lately, even if some of them end up on digital channels; but while most of them buy into the Wan universe, Death Whisper opted for something closer to home and maybe that helped to keep the material recognisable and believable.