The Indonesian thriller “The 3rd Eye” (“Mata Batin“) is a ghost story built on the premise that once you can see them, they see you. And come after you.
It’s a culture-clash viewing experience, from the language (some English, mostly Indonesian with English subtitles) to its depiction of everything from Indonesian cemeteries and funerals, co-writer/director Rocky Soraya’s vision of the Afterlife and the way the film treats its opening credits and a story that goes on an on after its climax and even after its “resolution.”
The frights and the means of pursuing them are universal, downright conventional, even if the effects are more State of the ’80s than State of the Art.
Years ago, a wealthy family’s life was disrupted when Abel, their youngest daughter, kept seeing people nobody else in the house saw. “This is my house, the man told me,” she said.
She wears headphones and listens to music constantly, so that “they” won’t try to talk to her.
And for all her skepticism, older sister Alia does catch a glimpse, we think, of the corpse that’s haunting her.
Fifteen years later, Alia (Jessica Mila) gets the news their parents have died. She and teenage Abel (Bianca Hello) have to move back to their old house, which groundskeeper Mr. Asep (Epy Kusnandar) has kept up. No sooner have they arrived than Abel is chased out of a room by one of the sheets supposedly just there to cover furniture.
This house is haunted.
Not that Alia accepts that. She’s ready to take sis to a shrink. But they do what their mother did long ago with Abel, they confer with a medium who wears the makeup of a witch (Citra Prima, sexy scary). Bu Windu told Abel, long ago, that she could see ghosts.
“You have the third eye.”
Alia’s response to that? She wants Bu Windu to give her that ability. She wants to join Abel in the “Third Eye NOT Blind” state. If she doesn’t see anybody, it’s off to the psychotherapist for baby sister.
Alia doesn’t realize the conversion has worked until she visits the doctor’s office. She chats with a bloodied and bruised child in a wheelchair.
“Dad hit me,” the kid says. But tell my mom I still love him, she adds. Alia attempts to do that and everybody freaks out — the mother, Alia.
Next thing she knows, she’s being chased by the dead all through the hospital, into the parking garage. Alia believes. Can she convince boyfriend Davin (Denny Sumargo)?
There are more consultations with Bu Windu, increasingly alarming encounters with “bad energy” spirits in their house and the search for who or what caused them to be there, to find out what they want and see if it (revenge) is manageable.
Ghosts materialize through walls, let us see their heads spin (slowly, “Exorcist” style) and claw at the living as if they’re the Living Dead.
A mystery is introduced and solved.
And the damned movie keeps going, into a bizarro Halloween Funhouse version of the Afterlife, where visitors walk down a cloth tunnel viewing all manner of dead people. More people die, more explanations of the “rules” of this Afterlife pile up.
It’s not particularly frightening, it goes on entirely too long, but if you’re inured to the shocks and tropes of American horror, “The 3rd Eye/Mata Batin”) will hold your interest and make you wonder how long it will take Blumhouse to remake it.
MPAA Rating: unrated, graphic violence (machetes, shears, etc), horror
Credits:Directed by Rocky Soraya, script by Riheam Junianti and Fajar Umbara. A Hitmaker/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:48