World Cinema Series: Pintu Terlarang (Forbidden Door) – a Movie by Joko Anwar

World Cinema Series is a movie challenge hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat. You can read more reviews in Carolines’s Page or Richard’s Foreign Film Festivals.

I have been featuring movies from Sweden, Japan, England, Ireland, US and my own country Indonesia. This is my second Indonesian movie. The first one I shared was The Raid – Redemption. I included Indonesia here even though it is my own country because not many people have seen movies from my country, I am not an Indonesian movies fans either despite the fact I am living in here. Little by little, I encounter movies from my own country which are very good and worth a review 🙂

The Fifth Country : Indonesia

Pintu Terlarang (Forbidden Door) is a well done book adapted movie, something I rarely said when it comes to a movie with so many changes done by the script writer (the director himself)

I should begin by saying how I hate The Shining (movie, not the book) because the director changed the story to his own will. And there is more than once that where I feel really disappointed with a movie adaptation as I have written it here in No Movie Is Greater than The Book.

I knew from the beginning when I saw the trailer of Pintu Terlarang that the movie would be different with the book. However, I know I can deal with it as the book is not something easy to be adapted entirely the same into movie. The changes done by Joko Anwar are more than acceptable.

You can read my review of the book if you want to get clearer idea of what I am about to write here 🙂 , My book review is here.

The basic story is the same but the details are changed. A very successful sculptor named Gambir had his own trick to make his statue seemed alive. He was actually sick of what he had done but his beautiful wife said it was okay. After his sold out exhibition, he started seeing and hearing things. The first one he saw was a child’s handwriting on his porch saying Tolong Saya (help me). Things became worst after he accidentally found a red locked door in his studio. Talyda, his wife, told him never to open the door no matter what and he must forget that the door even exists.

The message kept showing up till he found a place called Herosase, an unusual place where people came to enjoy seeing what a hidden camera being installed on other people’s house. Gambir finally saw the child who had been leaving messages to him, he was physically and mentally abused by his parents. He wanted to help the boy before it was too late. But what he found in Herosase was not only about the boy, he saw what he mustn’t see. What he saw snapped him from reality.

Seeing the movie is like seeing a different kind of story with few similarities with the book, it’s like seeing Ringu and reading the book. In the book, there are 3 stories told in their own separate chapters…to make them into a movie would be a bit dull. I really like how Joko Anwar changed the three stories into something Gambir saw in the TV-screen in Herosase. I am curious of how Anwar got the idea of that place.

As I have said in my book review, the story is quite bloody, to be honest I like the gore in the book more than the movie. The book has this gripping murder of a complete crazy. The way Sekar Ayu described how the murder, the maniac murder, was cruel and sadistic in a way people could understand. Here in the movie, it was more like a psycho kind of murder. It was all well planned. The murder was the outcome of a perfect timing and planning while in the book it’s more like a burst of feeling that finally came out. Either way, I like it both.

Not only Joko Anwar changed the details of the story, he also changed the main characters personality. I wrote in my book review that I hated Talyda so much but here in the movie, she wasn’t as annoying devil in angelic disguise as she was in the book. Talyda was no different with any rich spoiled woman. She is somewhat weak even though still manipulative. Gambir, on the other hand, was a more depressed character than he was in the book. He didn’t show overloaded love toward Talyda as he was in the book, he was just like any husband with slight illusion problems. It was really depressing seeing Gambir, reading him was more pitiful than depressing.

I really have to give big applause to Joko Anwar as he can make changes from a book in a very impressive way. In fact, I am giving better rating than the book. The last part in the movie is more understandable than the book…I can’t quite say what it is as it will be a major spoiler, but the scattered magazine in the last scene (you know it when you have seen it) explains things better than the book.

This is my first Joko Anwar’s movie. I heard he always make great movie. I am planning to see his other movies one day. He really intrigued me 🙂

My review is more like a book-movie comparison…can’t help it as I am both book-worm and movie-buff. If you want to read a pure movie review, do visit Miyuki’s Review at Nekoneko Movie Litterbox. If you are wondering about the existence of this movie in US, Miyuki has shown that she could find the DVD with English subs.

All I can say about this movie (without comparing it with the book) is that Pintu Terlarang is an interesting psychological thriller with a sick and unpredictable ending…The kind of thriller I like so much.

Movie Details:

Director: Joko Anwar
Producers: Sheila Timothy
Writter : Joko Anwar
Starring : Fachri Albar, Marsha Timothy, Ario Bayu, Otto Djauhari, Tio Pakusadewo, Henidar Amroe
Music : Aghi Narottama, Bemby Gusti, Ramondo Gascaro
Cinematography : Ipung Rahmat Syaiful
Award : Best of Puchon at Puchon Intenational Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea.


  1. I am glad you liked this one Novia… I had been worried it might be a bit too bloody for you to really enjoy. I agree… Joko Anwar is a very talented director indeed. You should try his film “Kala” next… it’s an odd detective story much like the old “Film Noir” movies made here in the 40’s and 50’s but with a supernatural and psychological element that is very uniquely it’s own.

    The Indonesian DVD for both it and “Pintu Terlarang” are subtitled into English, and there is also a Malaysian release for both, but I haven’t seen any release for it here in the US or from Europe. 😉

    1. Too bloody? hehehe that means you haven’t known my type of too bloody yet 😉
      The only reason I watched the awful (story-wise) Ninja Assassin was because the blood effect of cutting people in that movie is amazing. Actually, the book is more sadistic the movie…the way the boy killed his parents was far more gruesome than the movie…I was a bit disappointed he only did that in the movie 😉

      My student told me about KALA once but I still haven’t got a chance to see it yet.

      Ah…it means you have to order Pintu Terlarang, you can’t find it in US or Europe DVD store? 😦

      1. Hahahaha!! Then you should watch the Mo Brothers cannibal film “Rumah Dara” aka “Macabre” you little gore fan ;)…. that’s another really good Indonesian film too, but really graphic and scary….. I did a review for it a while back. That one really surprised me with the levels of nasty gore in it.

        We used to have a domestic mail-order store here in the US that sold all sorts of imported Indonesian DVD’s and CD’s… and I got a lot of what I have from them, but they just closed up and disappeared from the internet without warning last year. 😦

        Now I have to buy my Indonesian films from Malaysia or Singapore as I haven’t found a source that ships outside of Indonesia yet. But if people really want Joko Anwar’s films, they are still pretty easy to find since he has won awards for them.

        1. I was thinking about seeing it when it first came out…but I wasn’t sure whether it’s a psychological thriller or just a mere slasher movie. Although I like gore but I never really like purposeless slasher movies. I will read your review first before trying to find it 😉

  2. That capture of the beat-up boy, if I didn’t know it was a movie scene, I’d feel really sad 😦 It seems that the director of this movie made adaptations in order to make the book’s characters more… realistic? Easier to believe in and symphatise with?

    1. He is a poor boy.

      I think so too. Reading the book only makes me connect to the boy..but when watching it, I can connect and understand the other characters too. I feel sorry for Gambir but I dont really care bout him when reading it.

  3. Ahhhhh now I know what you meant about the swords 🙂
    I hope that you have had a very nice day today Miss. Novia 😉 🙂

    ♫ *´”)
    , ¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨) ♫ ♪
    (¸.•´ (¸.• ♫ ♪Androgoth XXx

  4. I’ve started watching The Shining a few times and have caught bits and pieces all through it, but never actually made it through form beginning to ending in one sitting.

    The twining of the three stories is interesting, but the trailer isn’t enough to make me want to see the movie.

    1. For me…it’s not a total lost when you never watch the Shining properly. The movie didn’t live up to the book.

      Agree!! the trailer is not good at all…it’s not as interesting as how the movie is

  5. It sounds as if movie and book complement each other in this case which is how it should be.
    I’ve never seen anything by this director but this sounds like a good starting point. Thanks for agreat review and for joining, Novia.

    1. It’s a rare thing seeing a movie and book so different with each other but still enjoyable…I guess your saying is correct, they complement each other.
      Thank you for hosting Caroline…I am planning to watch at least 4 more countries, one country per month 😉

  6. Joko Anwar: We did the usual audition process of course and ended up seeing like 9,200 people for the whole eight person cast. It was a lot to handle. But one thing we did differently for this movie is that we opened up the audition process on Facebook and Twitter just so we could see some people that maybe we wouldn’t have normally seen through the usual channels. That worked out great because we actually got three people who have never acted in films before for this movie. And they just blow you away.

    1. Hehehe Cumakata2, gapapa kok pake bahasa Indo, mereka pake English krn mereka memang bukan orang Indo 😉

      Wow…pintu terlarang made you vomit?? it’s still nothing compared to other movies I have seen from abroad.

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