Nyi Blorong is a film starring Indonesian horror queen Suzzanna and Indonesian action king Barry Prima that is thematically neither a horror or an action film, but rather more of a straightforward fantasy picture based in Indonesian folklore. Still, director Sisworo Gautama Putra (who earlier directed Prima in the hit Jaka Sembung, aka The Warrior) provides enough spooky atmosphere and ooky gore to at least please fans of the former genre, even if we don’t get to see Barry spin kick anyone in the mug.
As films like Lady Terminator demonstrate, the Indonesian film industry was not above occasionally tailoring their product with an eye toward Western distribution -- a tendency that indeed accounts in part for the steady employment of Western-looking, Eurasian actors like Prima and Suzzanna. Nyi Blorong, however -- and despite whatever distribution history it may have had -- is clearly a picture aimed at the locals. As such, it’s one of those films that gives outsiders like myself the kind of voyeuristic thrill that can only come from feeling like you’ve been afforded a peek into another culture's dream life. The film handles its outré subject matter, not with the trashy, winking enthusiasm of the exploitation genre, but instead with a solemnity that adds considerably to its overall atmosphere of dread and disquiet.
As I’m finding is the case with a lot of the most effective Indonesian horrors, Nyi Blorong also makes good use of a very sparingly applied musical score, with many of the most dramatic and disturbing scenes eerily playing out against a muted backdrop of ambient natural sounds. It also doesn’t hurt that the score, when it does chime in, is a hauntingly atonal and minimalist one featuring traditional Indonesian instruments. In fact, the only Western sounding theme to be heard at any point is a woozy string quartet piece that plays during the romantic scenes between the Snake Queen and Andika -- the significance of which I won’t speculate upon, but which is nonetheless deserving of consideration.