The Merits of Sin: Air Terjun Pengantin aka Waterfall of Pengantin aka Lost Paradise: Playmates in Hell (2009) (Indonesia)

Indonesian slasher. That’s all you had to say. Indonesia has been a constant source of joy in my trip down the horror rabbit hole and I was teethed on slasher flicks so I was all in when Waterfall of Pengantin first bleeped on my radar. Luckily it wasn’t that hard to track down and here we are. The thing about expectations is that they are rarely met and WoP is nowhere near as wild as I wanted it to be…but that’s on me. What we have here is a pretty standard slasher flick but with just enough local flavor to give it an edge on the competition. Don’t think of it as an average Friday the 13th, think of it as an excellent I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

Canned laughter

The template stands strong. A group of airbrushed idiots head to the wrong location and the psychotic sole inhabitant in a knockoff Slipknot mask begins stalking and slaying the pretty people. The group is headed by a woman named Tiara who has a car accident (completely her fault, btw) in her recent past which has left her with a fear of the dark. Her handsome pile of meat boyfriend is along for the ride and constantly avoiding her insistence on engagement. Also joining in on the fun is Tiara’s younger sister (I think, they may just be close friends) and her friends (they’re all pretty interchangeable except for one girl who had short hair and took pictures and one horny guy who was a tool).

Tool Time

They’re heading to The Bride Island to see the legendary Bride Waterfall. Supposedly any wish you make at the waterfall will come true. So there’s that. The island also has another legend and it’s not a happy one. According to lore, a shaman wanted to take a young girl for his bride but the villagers weren’t having it. The shaman, being a complete asshole, kidnapped the young girl and the villagers gave chase. In the tricky act of fleeing and holding someone against their will, the girl went over the waterfall and died. This drove the shaman insane and instead of taking a good long look at his actions and the consequences they bore, he murdered everyone on the island and got half his face burnt off because of it. So on the cheerier side of things there’s a magical waterfall and on the other, pants shitting side, there’s a story about a deformed lunatic with a broken mind…guess which half actually has some truth to it.

If you said “magic waterfall”, please leave

The killer’s motivation is a bit more interesting than usual. Not only is he collecting blood to consume in an effort towards invulnerability, he also takes a shine to Tiara and decides she’d make for a good bride. He discusses this with the old wise shaman who exists only in his head. He wields a machete and a hook spear with precision and can take a beating. He’s also pretty scrawny but that’s made up for by his viciousness.

Invulnerability 101

There ain’t much going on with the characters but that’s a pretty standard move when it comes to slasher flicks. They give more backstory to the final girl (obviously) but even she barely registers. So don’t go in expecting to fall hard for anyone outside of thinking they’re handsome or they have breasts because after they pass on to the next realm of existence you probably won’t remember their names.

Wait! What the hell are these things?!?

The characters also make some hilariously awful decisions. The usual exploration of abandoned buildings (and even a Dutch cemetery) are expected but what wasn’t expected is what happens in the processing room of the old canned fish factory. Yes. The island has one of those. The walls are splattered with blood and fish guts and there’s no telling how long the place has been vacant but when the girls discover it has running water they sure as shit decide a group shower is the way to go. Obviously an excuse to get some nekkid ladies on the screen is rendered pretty damn pointless thanks to a lack of nudity. So the idiotic action of a fish rot shower is also treated with a PG innocence. Yeah, it’s pretty great.

The smell of rotting fish is an aphrodisiac in Innsmouth

Finally, the thing that the majority of slasher fans (and those constantly complaining idiots who just can’t get over the fucking eighties) will be coming for is the violence. It’s slight in the flick but still present. There’s no constant barrage of mutilation but there are some nice and juicy bits. A spear through the head, a slightly slashed throat and nails through the hands stand out as most memorable, there’s also a Friday the 13th Part 3-D style eyeball gag that’s brought to life with low quality digital effects. It’s a hodgepodge of crapola and I dug it. Throw in the island jungle setting, some great nighttime shots and there’s very little you have to add to maximize the atmosphere. The minimal bit of black magic being practiced in the background and the tropical environment at least offer the illusion of freshness. Hell, I liked it a lot more than I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.


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