Rocky Soraya is an Indonesian prolific producer that, from 2017, started directing horror films financed and distributed by Netflix. You might have seen his Dolls trilogy (The Doll, The Doll 2 and Sabrina) and his Insidious-inspired horror flick The 3rd Eye. Now, his latest movie – Suzzanna: Buried Alive, a horror-comedy based on an Indonesian urban legend – is available on Netflix.
Although I didn’t care at all for those possessed dolls flicks, I thought The 3rd Eye was a solid exorcism movie, which showed hints of talent. Thus, I went into Suzzanna (which is marketed as a horror-comedy) with an open mind but proceeding with caution.
The movie starts with Suzzanna and Satria, a couple married for seven years but not yet blessed with children. However, Suzzanna’s long-awaited pregnancy finally happens, but unfortunately it coincides with Satria’s official plan abroad. This opportunity is utilised by four Satria employees, who hold grudges against Satria and intend to rob Satria’s house when he’s away. Their sloppy robbery plan turns into the murder of Suzzanna, which comes back as a vengeful spirit and claims the lives of her killers.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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My review is also available on IMDb – Suzzanna: Buried Alive (2019)
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Set in 1989, Suzzanna starts off rather strong: the build-up is quite slow, but it is filled with a dreadful atmosphere, entertaining characters, good acting and a decent mix of comedy and drama. In fact, the first part of the movie – until the murder – doesn’t even feel like a horror film: it looks like an above average drama/comedy that nails the look of 80s Indonesia (from what I understand).
Yet, during the first part, Suzzanna constantly references some infamous cult classics from Indonesia, such as Mystics in Bali and Raw Force: at this day and age, it’s quite impressive to watch such references and be able to catch them! Suzzanna clearly tries to replicate that formula made of purposefully nonsensical mixture of horror, action, drama, comedy…
Too bad it fails gloriously. After such a promising start, this movie goes downhill quick fast. In my opinion, the main reason this happens lies in the runtime: nearly two and a half hours is simply too long for the story it’s trying to tell. Besides, unlike those aforementioned flicks, Suzzanna is very little stylised (there are only a couple of impressive shots), which makes the viewing experience fall flat. Yet, the score is extremely cheesy throughout, even when it should become intense and atmospheric to accompany the few intense, gory sequences.
Had this movie been 40 minutes shorter, my judgment wouldn’t be so harsh. Unfortunately, 40 minutes of wasted screen time isn’t exactly a minor flaw!
Aside from the drawn-out runtime, the biggest problem with the film is Suzzanna. She’s one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen in a long time, both as a person and as a ghost. I get what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish: films like Mystics in Bali have at least one characters that’s overacted and screams a lot for no reason. However, those films use characters like this sparingly. Suzzanna is the damn main character!
Without spoiling anything, at the end of the film there’s a protracted and mundane romantic montage that nearly made me blow my brains out!
On the other hand, as a comedy this movie often works. The characters are so goofy that there’s no need for cheesy lines, as the audience simply laughs at their intentional clumsiness. A couple of scares are quite well-executed and there’s one very intense home-invasion sequence that made me feel truly uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, the redeeming qualities Suzzanna undeniably has aren’t enough to save the overall film, which at the end feels like a huge miscalculation.
Suzzanna: Buried Alive 4.5/10
One last thing: sometimes I get comments criticising me for giving bad reviews only to American horror movies. The truth is that, as a person who lives in the western part of the world, I get to watch more movies from the United States than from everywhere else, therefore I’m most likely to come across crap among American films. At the same time, since it’s harder for me to find ‘foreign’ titles, I usually make a huge effort to put my hands on the ones that sound really good, which means I’m less likely to come across crappy foreign horror flicks.
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