After being amazed by the teaser, finally, I had a chance to watch DreadOut movie with my colleagues and some students who are big fans of the game. Here’s my thought about the movie.
The DreadOut movie is the first movie based on a popular survival horror game made by a Bandung-based studio, Digital Happiness. The game gains its popularity not only in Indonesia but also in the world by introducing Indonesian ghosts. The game has a tense atmosphere, and it surely becomes a favorite survival horror along with other horror games such as Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, Alan Wake or Fatal Frame.
Since the movie is based on a game, let’s talk from the game perspective first.
The movie tells about a group of teenagers who want to gain popularity by doing a live streaming dare in a haunted apartment. Along the journey, they enter a forbidden room with a mystical portal inside. The seemingly harmless action that they just started turns out to be the adventure of life and death against creatures from the other world.
The movie takes place in a small city, a haunted apartment, the other world (say, Realm of the Damned), House of the Damned, and Misty Cemetery.
Although it’s based on the game, the characters are not exactly the same as the characters in the game. The production house built the character composition just like a Japanese horror game: the chosen one with a mysterious background, the victim, the coward, the love interest, the prick who likes to talk big and act tough, the ringleader, and the cool guy.
Some characters are funny enough that they can make you laugh in the middle of a tense atmosphere. Linda, just like in the game, is described as an innocent girl but has an undiscoverable power. She can cast a spell. She also has a flash gun and telekinetic power. But in this movie, we don’t see much about Linda’s background. So, maybe we should wait for the sequel, either in form of the game or movie.
This movie has lesser villains than in the game. Some of them might be prepared for the movie sequel. The main villain of the movie is Lady in Red Kebaya with her sidekick: White Sister and Pocong. They get support from their minions, Pocongs and Grabber Hands (hands that appear from the graveyard, Grabbing ghosts).
Actually, the terror from Pocong with its sickle is promising enough to be explored more to build the audience’s fear. It’s just like the terror from Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2. Unfortunately, the screen time is very short and not memorable.
In this movie, we can also see that the ghosts are also evolving. To fight them, we don’t need sacred things or spell anymore. We can fight them by only using a flash camera from the smartphone. Sometimes, the ghosts also take a selfie in the front of the camera.
Just like in the game, there are some artifacts that we can find along the journey. Whether it’s the main artifact or not (which also weights on its power), here is the list of the artifacts that appear in the movie.
- Waterproof backpack
- Linda’s Flash Gun
- Axe of Unknown
- Axe of Death
- Sacred Kris (a tipe of dagger historically owned by Southeast Asians)
- The Portal
- Parchment Scroll
- Hand in the Jar
In my opinion, the most interesting thing in this movie is Linda’s smartphone. Although the character keeps falling down, plunged into the water or strangled until she faints, the smartphone always sticks with her. It’s almost never off from her hands. The flashgun feature is also very cool, even when it hits the ghost.
This flash is just like a flagship weapon that might be the most anticipated weapon. It can be triggered by a camera button and (maybe) triggered automatically by the character’s fear.
The movie takes place in a mountainside small city with an abandoned apartment. At first, I thought that it would be great if the movie explored more about the apartment as the main setting, so it could bring audience just like playing a game level by level.
But I was wrong. The movie doesn’t explore the apartment more, except for only one room and the hallway when the characters do the live stream, the appearance of the fake ghost and read the social media comments.
The scenes are good enough to drive us into the story and the atmosphere, just like real footage when we see our smartphone screen. Unfortunately, the room exploration is not enough. It might be because the production house was thinking about the duration and how the movie should catch up with the story.
And then we go into the main room when most of the movie scenes take place. It’s a sacred room with a parchment that can open a portal to the other dimension in the form of a well on the floor. This room and parchment have a connection with Linda’s past.
The movie tells us that the character can be transport to the other world using the portal. The other world could be the hell, or to be precise, Realm of the Damned that contains a forest, hill, graveyard and a haunted house. The place is like an ordinary village that can make the audience feel the atmosphere transformation from apartment to the village.
This movie has two post-credits scenes. The first post-credit scene confirms the ending of the story. Then the second post-credit scene serves as the implicit connection to the first scene of the DreadOut game.
Game to Movie Adaptation
Adapting a game into a movie is not an easy task. In the game, we play as a main character who drives the story based on the given quests and completes the quests without bothering to think about the reason behind it or whether it’s logic or not.
But in the movie, it is like we are watching other people play it. It might be easier for us to give critics because we are not the main characters and we’re just sitting there, watching the scenes. Our brain could be asking for logical explanations in almost all of the scenes that we see.
The DreadOut adaptation from game to movie, I think, is enough to please the audience whether they have played the game or not. The movie offers a different theme from the game. If the game we’ve offered was a survival-horror genre, in the movie we got a thriller-experience theme.
While other movies might still rely on the jump scare technique, which is intended to scare the audience by surprising them, Dreadout took a different approach by offering the experience as a group of teenagers hunting for ghosts just for the sake of social media popularity. This might be what attracts younger audience to watch the movie more.
- Creepy villains
- Immersive sound effect
- Live streaming concept
- The comments
- The on-camera flashgun
- Lack of exploration when in the old apartment and Realm of the Damn.
- Unclear special power of the kris
Overall I would rate this as a 9/10. It’s a great movie and I hope that Indonesians can support the movie. Hopefully, there will be a more exciting and gripping sequel to it!