Fun story: I started watching Malevolent on Netflix to write a probably successful review about it (since reviews of Netflix movies usually lead to many views, thus quite a bit of bucks), but half way through I got extremely bored and uninterested. Since I had some free time to waste, I searched the horror section of the platform and I came across Mata Batin (The 3rd Eye, in English).
In fact, The 3rd Eye is an Indonesian horror film, one that I believe to be more worth writing about than Malevolent.
Set in present time, The 3rd Eye follows Alia as she decides to leave Bangkok (that’s in Thailand) and return to Jakarta (that’s in Indonesia) after her parents die. She and Abel, her younger sister, move into their childhood home away from the city. But Abel, who is often strange and frightened, dislikes the house, sees dark entities in it and completely ignores Davin, Alia’s boyfriend who accompanied Alia.
Abel’s attitude gets worse, as she claims that she can see those who are already dead because her third eye has been open since childhood (kind of like in The Sixth Sense). Abel invites Alia to see Mrs. Windu, a psychic who knows about alternate dream-like universes (a la Insidious). Wanting to prove the that Abel’s delusional, Alia asks an expert, Mrs Windu, to open her third eye (as any normal, loving sister would do, right?). Slowly, Alia begins to experience unusual events. She sees things no one else can, and the presence of ghosts ask her help. But those who appear at Alia’s house hurt her. Their energy is so negative that it risks possessing Alia and Abel… just like in The Exorcist and any other possession flick ever since.
Yes, as you could probably tell, The 3rd Eye hasn’t got an original plot. Far from it, actually, since this flick imitates and rips off so many aspects from successful American horror movies that came out throughout the years. Nevertheless, this is a rather solid and entertaining horror flick, especially for fans of possession/supernatural-related cinema. Similarly to The Conjuring, The 3rd Eye takes tiresome concepts and turns them into some enjoyable 105 minutes.
Why is that, though? Why is this movie better than most unoriginal possession/exorcism stories?
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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The foremost reason why The 3rd Eye succeeds where other failed, at least for me, is represented by the solid characters. Sure, sometimes Alia, Abel and Mrs Windu make dumb choices that carry the plot along, but overall they have depth and motivation, which makes you care for what happens to them, thus making the viewing experience more intense and enjoyable. The acting, albeit not outstanding, is good enough not to take the viewer out of the movie.
Besides cast and protagonists, the other show stealer in the movie is the gore. Yes, you read that right: The 3rd Eye is a rather violent and gory picture, with people getting butchered, and blood and limbs flying everywhere. Due to the great makeup and special effects, the violent scenes really work in this one.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t necessarily need gore and violence to enjoy a horror film. As a matter of fact, I often prefer great atmosphere and intriguing characters over well-executed violence. However, I’ve rarely seen a rated R possession flick before, which makes The 3rd Eye stand out over similar, but more unimaginative flicks.
Other than that, cinematography and camera work are nice, especially in combination with some great locations (both in this world and the other, to put it like this movie would) and an overall maniacal attention to details in the visual presentation.
Every other aspect of the movie, from the twists to the development of the story to its rather dull ending, is very predictable, albeit well directed and executed. In other words, if you’ve seen a few of the milestones in this sub-genre, you’d know what to expect from basically every sequence.
Nonetheless, if these flicks are your cup of tea and if you like the movies from, say, The Conjuring universe or the Insidious franchise, you’ll most likely spend some quality and entertaining time with The 3rd Eye.
The 3rd Eye 7/10