I’ve been looking forward to Satan’s Slaves: Communion for a while now. When I got Shudder a few years back, Satan’s Slaves was one of the first random movies I watched, and I absolutely loved it. It instantly became one of my favorite horror films in recent memory, so naturally, when I heard that writer/director Joko Anwar was making a sequel, I couldn’t wait to see it. And now, after finally getting the chance to watch it, I’m happy to say that if you liked the first Satan’s Slaves, I think you’re going to like this new one as well.
Satan’s Slaves: Communion was written and directed by Joko Anwar, and it stars Tara Bosro, Endy Arfian, Bront Palarae, Ratu Felisha, Nasar Anu, and Egi Fedly. It takes place a few years after Satan’s Slaves, and it follows the family from that first film as they try to live a normal life after their hellish experience. However, unbeknownst to them, their apartment building harbors a deadly secret, and on one dark and stormy night, they find out that evil isn’t done with them just yet.
Like I said, if you were a fan of Satan’s Slaves, you’ll probably like Satan’s Slaves: Communion, and there are two big reasons why. First, we have the characters. All the major players from the original film are back (well, the surviving ones at least!), and they’re just as likable as they were the first time around.
The performances are all really good, and aside from a few minor hiccups here and there, the dialogue is pretty believable, so I really enjoyed being back with these characters. In fact, I could probably watch an entire movie of them just going about their daily lives, even without any supernatural threats. They’re simply that fun to watch, so they really carried the film from beginning to end.
But they didn’t do it alone. Like any good sequel, Satan’s Slaves: Communion also adds a whole bunch of new faces into the mix, and they’re excellent as well. Granted, I wasn’t quite as attached to them as I was to the returning characters, but that’s just because I didn’t have any preexisting connection to them. They had to win me over, and they did it without breaking a sweat. It didn’t take me long to enjoy seeing the newcomers just as much as the original cast, so by the end of it, I fell in love with the whole ensemble.
On top of those great characters, Satan’s Slaves: Communion also has some awesome horror, and it showcases Joko Anwar’s absolute mastery of the genre. Right from the opening scene, he effortlessly imbues just about the entire film with a feeling of dread, so no matter what’s happening at the moment, even if it’s not particularly horrific, you almost always feel like something terrible is about to happen.
Then, when the movie adds in actual scares, the horror gets even better. Sometimes they’re loud and in your face, and other times they require you to pay a bit more attention to what’s happening on screen, but either way, they’re always effective. Granted, if you’re a hardened genre veteran who doesn’t scare easily, I don’t think you’re going to be too frightened by anything in this movie, but at the very least, you’ll have a ton of fun watching Joko Anwar show off his skill as a supernatural scare-master.
All that being said, I have to acknowledge that Satan’s Slaves: Communion isn’t a perfect film. It has two big flaws that keep it from being truly great, and one of them even made me question whether I liked the movie at all (but only for a few moments!). For starters, there are a handful of things that feel a bit too much like the first Satan’s Slaves. To take just one example, there’s a really religious character named Ustaz who goes around telling everyone that they need to pray and trust in God, and while I appreciate the sentiment, he’s a bit too similar to the Ustad character in the first film who pretty much does the exact same thing.
To be fair, there aren’t a ton of obvious callbacks to the first movie, but the few I noticed are just a little too on the nose. It feels like Joko Anwar was trying to nudge the audience and wink at us as if to say, “Remember that?”, and every time it happened, it reminded me that I was watching a fictional story. It killed the illusion of reality, so it kept me from immersing myself in the movie as much as I wanted to.
Secondly, and much more egregiously, it takes way too long for Satan’s Slaves: Communion to feel like a cohesive narrative. For most of its runtime, the film just feels like a random collection of scares, and it’s only at about the 90-minute mark that it really starts to coalesce into a single discernible storyline. Granted, I enjoyed that random collection of scares for what it was, but after a while, the lack of direction really began to grate on me, and for a moment, it almost ruined the entire movie.
Luckily though, it all comes together in the end, so I was still able to really enjoy the experience as a whole. Granted, Satan’s Slaves: Communion isn’t nearly as good as the first Satan’s Slaves, but the great characters and excellent horror are more than enough to outweigh everything the film does poorly. So if you’re a fan of that first movie or if you’re just looking for some good new horror to watch, I definitely recommend giving this film a shot.
Satan’s Slaves: Communion hits Shudder on November 4.