V/H/S/2 with Timo Tjahjanto
Timo Tjahjanto has to be one of the most extreme, and shit-hot horror directors of the present-day. With his bizarre and deviant shorts L is for Libido and Safe Haven, Tjahjanto’s stuff is something that I, for one, cannot get enough of. He is one half of the Indonesian Mo Brothers – well known for the success of Macabre – and it would appear that his creativity holds no bounds. A self-confessed “outsider”, Tjahjanto rehashes the Indonesian horror genre by working beyond two formulas that he describes as being “half assed cheese ball sexual innuendos and J-horror clichés”.
L for Libido takes us on one hell of a ride, as we are witness to various stages of perversion. Delightfully depraved, L is for Libido was shot for The ABCs of Death on a $5K budget, which Tjahjanto claims was “fucking hard, but a good exercise.” Full of confrontational scenes that include forced masturbation, cum-shots, and not without fervent bloody deaths, Tjahjanto insists that, “In Libido the only brake that finally stops me from going any crazier was the budget”.
This is not to say that the film isn’t already crazy. It is crazy in the most spectacular of fashions. L is for Libido is alluring. But, as we stare fervently at the screen, there is a catch. There is a challenge to look deeper, an impulsion to question the nature of debauchery. Tjahjanto says, “It’s important to me that people get past the absurdity on screen and see that little exploration of the darkness of depravity, power play and voyeurism.”
Hallelujah! Unafraid to venture into darkness, Tjahjanto sets the bar high for contemporary horror. For both L is for Libido, and Safe Haven, contains a cultist set of rituals that feed on perversion. On the subject of the cult, Tjahjanto describes it as “an old dark attraction for me. Blame it on Rosemary’s Baby or Wicker Man for that. Generally I always have a deep interest in a bunch of faceless people who get together to immerse themselves into fetishistic, perverted, or dark clandestine stuff”.
Safe Haven, featured in the upcoming V/H/S/2 is just as eccentric as L is for Libido. Working aside Gareth Evans, Safe Haven follows a group of journos on the filming of a cult. Shot in documentary fashion, the pair “wanted the camera to float in a comprehensible way, especially in the first and second act. We’re too old for the crazy constantly shaky cam, so it was a conscious decision to make the characters journalists, and therefore know how to handle cameras in a professional way”.
With brainwashed children, bizarre rituals, and extreme illustrations of death, Tjahjanto knew that if he could not have Evans as wingman, Safe Haven would not have happened. “Without the technical expertise of Garth, without his sense of balletic camera bravura and kinetic energy, Safe Haven would end with an end of a prayer and not with what you’ve seen”. The duo is certainly ballsy, with Safe Haven a standout segment in V/H/S/2, and whose chaotic scenes that prove impossible to forget.
V/H/S/2 will be screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival. If you haven’t yet got your tickets, I would highly encourage you to go out and grab ‘em. Both anthologies are an absolute must-see.
And, if you have had a taste of Tjahjanto, you will be glad to know that there is much more to come. Firstly, keep your eyes peeled for Killers later on in the year, by the Mo Brothers: “Killers is a psychological thriller revolving two Serial Killers whose lives intersect one another. The more seasoned, colder Japanese guy acts like a twisted guide to the newly formed Indonesian killer, both travels into their own spiral of chaos as their dependence to violence becomes more absolute.
The story is also somewhat an intimate one for me, my sort of “fuck you world” note for not being a better place for my daughter to live. Ha!”
Currently in pre-production, The Night Comes For Us will be the next feature-length project undertaken by Tjahjanto. It will be an action that works beyond generic conventions: “I am very excited for TNCFU! I’ve always wanted to make an action film, I am sick to death with the recent mainstream action films that’s been churned out of late, most feel so glossed up; hygiene and safe, putting an R rated badge as its something to be proud of. TNCFU is pretty much a Frankenstein story, a guy who’s created by the Chinese Mafia to become their number one, who ends up being hunted by them when he’s slowly coming to terms of being a protector instead of a killer. It’s going to be gloriously brutal. Which is why Gareth is on board for this one as my boss”.
For all us horror buffs, plans are in the works for another horror flick: “After Killers which is a psychological thriller and TNCFU an actioner, I want to go back to horror, so me and my Japanese producers from Killers are cooking up a somewhat erotic horror set in Tokyo”.
In the meantime, Tjahjanto has kindly linked us to one of his old shorts – Dara – that was the basis for the Mo Brothers’ Macabre. Happy viewing!