The ‘pontianak’ or ‘Kuntilanak’ (as known in Indonesia) is a type of vampire in Malay folklore. The kuntilanak is usually a woman who dies during childbirth and her spirit seeks revenge and terrorises villages. Therefore, ‘Kuntilanak’ is probably derived from the Malay words ‘bunting’, which means pregnant, and ‘anak’, meaning child.
In “Kuntilanak”, Julie Estelle plays Sam, a varsity student who moves into a rented house after her mother’s death. While on the way to the house, she is advised by a man, who happens to stay in the same village, to respect a big tree right at the middle of the cemetery. She is told not to stare at the tree. When she moves in, she is greeted by Bu Yanti, the caretaker, who explains to her the rules and starts chanting weirdly.
Strange things start to happen and Sam sees a white apparition sitting on the chair, combing its hair. She later discovers strands of white hair on the chair. One day, an argument takes place between Sam and a housemate. Shortly after the incident, the housemate dies – right after an involuntary chanting by Sam. Soon more of her housemates join the body count, including her close friend, Dinda (Ratu Felisha). When Sam’s boyfriend, Agung (Evan Sanders), disappears mysteriously, everyone leaves the rented house, except for Sam, who insists on getting to the bottom of the mystery.
Indonesian director Rizal Mantovani has definitely put in a lot of effort in the production of “Kuntilanak”. The sound effects are relatively good – enough to chill your bones; and so is the cinematography. The cast – Julie Estelle, Evan Sanders and Ratu Felisha – are credible, especially Estelle who manages to sustain our attention as a vulnerable student. The unpredictable storyline, and the scenes of innocent people dying with their heads turned to the back, all add up to another horror outing about the myths of pontianak.