How 'Impetigore' Director Gave Back to Remote Indonesian Village Used for Filming (Video)

Crew of horror film built infrastructure left for the locals to enjoy, director Joko Anwar tells TheWrap

Filmmaker Joko Anwar stayed true to his vision for his Indonesian horror film “Impetigore” — so much so that when he found the perfect village to film in, the lack of infrastructure — yes, even a running toilet — didn’t stop them. Instead, they just built what they needed, and left it for the villagers to enjoy.

“We spent three months looking for a village that can resemble the village in the script,” Anwar told TheWrap during the screening of his film for TheWrap’s Screening Series. “We met someone who hiked in the forest, and he said he stumbled upon this village cut off from the modern world. The village was formed in 1941, made for workers who work in the plantation for the Dutch colonialists, and since then, they’ve lived there…. We went there, it matched perfectly with the description for the script. We had to make a path so our cars and equipment could get to the village.”

But that’s not the only thing the crew had to build.

“We didn’t have toilets or bathrooms over there, so we had to build proper toilets that after we finished shooting, they were used by locals,” he added. “The big house that we built for the main set, we left it intact after we shot and supplied books and then the house was used until now as a library for the locals.”

What’s most shocking, and admirable, perhaps, is the fact they filmed and erected the buildings and infrastructure for less than $1 million.

“Impetigore,” written and directed by Anwar, stars Tara Basro, Marissa Anita, Christine Hakim, Asmara Abigail, and Ario Bayu. It follows Maya and Dini, who go to a remote village Maya believes she’s from to find her childhood home so she can sell it for money. There, they encounter villagers who seem cold, suspicious, and dangerous.

While shooting “Impetigore” was “probably the most adventurous time” of his life, it didn’t come easy, Anwar said. Not only did it take 10 years for the film to get made, due to Anwar not finding the perfect locations for it and then the pandemic halting the shoot — but Anwar also got really sick at the start of production, which nearly cost him his life.

“We were supposed to shoot in 29 days, but on the first day of shooting, I got dengue fever so I was hospitalized for eight days,” he said. “My blood cells were very low, I was almost gone. I almost died because I moved so much. But then. my producer hired a nurse from another city that looked like the headmaster from ‘Matilda,’ she was very scary so she gave me an ultimatum not to move.” And with that, shooting resumed eight days later.

“Impetigore” is an interesting and unique horror film that focused on the idea of shadow puppets, a cultural heritage to many cultures in Asia, including Indonesia. Puppets are made of animal skin, usually, and held up against a screen in front of a single source of light. And Anwar used shadow puppets as his main focal point for the plot but also used it as a guide for his cinematography — with one character in the main frame, with other characters, or puppets, waiting in the shadows, ready to act.

“A lot of violence in ‘Impetigore’ was done off screen, but people were able to visualize the violence in their minds,” Anwar explained, adding that he isn’t a fan of gore in horror movies.

“Impetigore” debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was released in the United States on Shudder on July 23, 2020. It is Indonesia’s entry for Best International Feature at the 93rd Academy Awards.

Watch the interview above.

9 Fall Horror Movies to Keep You Up All Night, From 'It: Chapter Two' to 'Black Christmas' (Photos)

  • From movies about life-like dolls to terrifying clowns, 2019’s fall movie calendar is packed with horror.

  • Sept. 4: “IT: Chapter Two” 

    After the success of “IT” in 2017, we’re so looking forward to the sequel that will take place 27 years after the Loser Club crossed paths with Pennywise the Clown. 

    New Line

  • Sept. 13: “Haunt” 

    “A Quiet Place” co-writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck write and direct this one, about a group of friends who visit an “extreme” haunted house on Halloween. 

    Momentum

  • Oct. 18: “The Lighthouse”

    You wouldn’t think a festival favorite starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe would qualify as a horror movie, but it is! The movie follows two lighthouse keepers who live in a remote and mysterious island in the 1890s. 

    Photo by Eric Chakeen

  • Oct. 18: “Zombieland: Double Tap” 

    OK, we know — it’s more of a comedy than a horror film, but it’s still all about the guts and the gore. Woody Harrelson, Emma Roberts, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin return to fight evolved zombies.  

    Columbia

  • Oct. 18: “Eli” 

    October 18 seems to be THE day for horror releases this fall! In Ciaran Foy’s film, a boy receiving treatment for his autoimmune disorder realizes the house he’s in isn’t as safe as he thought. 

    Netflix

  • Nov. 8: “Doctor Sleep” 

    In a sequel to Stephen King’s “The Shining,” a grown-up Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) meets a young girl who houses the same abilities he has — they’re just much stronger, and that’s why she’s being hunted by a cult known as The True Knot. 

    Warner Bros.

  • Nov. 15: “The Lodge” 

    “The Lodge,” by the “Goodnight Mommy” filmmakers, made a splash in January at Sundance. The movie stars Kiley Keough, Richard Armitage and Alicia Silverstone and will make you cringe in fear for days.

    Sundance Institute

  • Dec. 6: “Brahms: The Boy II” 

    “Brahms: The Boy II” is the follow up to 2016’s “The Boy.” This one stars Katie Holmes as a woman whose son makes friends with a life-like doll named Brahms.

    STX

  • Dec. 13: “Black Christmas” 

    Blumhouse’s remake of the 1974 horror film of the same stars Cary Elwes, Imogen Poots and Brittany O’Grady and goes old-school horror: A group of friends are stalked by a stranger during their winter break. 

    Blumhouse

Fall Movie Preview: Scary films are a hot commodity this season

From movies about life-like dolls to terrifying clowns, 2019’s fall movie calendar is packed with horror.

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