DIRECTOR Upi Avianto WRITER Upi Avianto STARS Abimana Aryasatya; Imelda Therinne; Laudya Cynthia Bella DVD 25 November
Opening with the familiar trope of a distressed character running through the woods into the path of a car on a quiet, unlit road, Shackled adds a delicious twist immediately, with strong imagery that surprises our assumptions: a man in a rabbit costume sits in the front of the car, while two dead bodies, blood congealing on their torsos, lie either side of our previously-thought rescued man in the back. It’s a wonderful beginning to a story that promises surreal, and indeed what follows is a film that calls to mind David Lynch in its dreamlike quality, as we join our central character, Elang, in a life that is plagued by bloody visions that further feature this rabbit.
Attention to detail is key here; the use of colour — a cold blue palette used for the hall of Elang’s apartment block is a particularly nice touch, highlighting early on that even at home he shan’t find comfort — and light create an eerie aesthetic, while the decision to often place Elang at the very edge of the frame was a smart move, to further convey and complement the disconnection of a character that is very obviously in the throes of psychosis. Actor Abimana Aryasatya overreaches at points, some of his facial expressions questionable, nevertheless he is believable as this deeply troubled young man.
Such hard work on the aesthetic makes for an even bigger disappointment in a script that slow-winds itself to an outcome that is rather predictable, offering nothing new to the psychological horror stable. The journey, however, is so visually arresting, director-writer Upi Avianto marks herself as a filmmaker to track.