Actress Suzzanna has been called the "Queen of Indonesian horror".[1]

Indonesian horror are the films of the horror genre produced by the Indonesian film industry. Often inspired by local folklore and religious elements,[2][3] Indonesian horror films have been produced in the country since the 1960s. After a hiatus during the Suharto era in the 1990s, when censorship affected production, Indonesian horror films continued being produced following Reformasi in 1998.[4][5]


Statues of vampire children in a temple in the Ubud Monkey Forest.

Ghosts and magical folklore have long been part of Indonesian culture. These later influenced the development of horror films.[6] Kuntilanak are particularly prominent in local horror films.[2]

During the authoritarian New Order regime under President Suharto, many horror films included religious symbolism and heroes to adhere to strict guidelines from censors. The Ministry Information under Ali Murtopo required that Indonesian films at the time had to follow strict moral and ethical guidelines, meaning many horror films juxtaposed violence and sexuality with religious heroes and themes.[7] Thomas Barker has argued that films produced after 1998 in Indonesia have been particularly shaped by what he described as the residual "trauma" of violence under the preceding New Order era under President Suharto.[2]

Suzzanna was a major film star in the 1970s and 1980s for her work in horror films. She appeared in 42 films before her death in 2008, including Bernafas dalam Lumpur [id], Beranak dalam Kubur [id] and Sundel Bolong.[1]

Indonesian horror films, particularly the work of Joko Anwar, attracted heightened international attention in the late 2010s, aided by streaming services. Some outlets declared films like Impetigore (2019) as part of a new wave of folk horror films from Southeast Asia.[3][6] Impetigore was Indonesia's submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film in its year of release and attracted international recognition, but was not nominated.[3][8]

HBO Asia also released Indonesian-developed horror television series Halfworlds.[6]


Themes approached in Indonesian horror include haunted forests as in Alas Pati: Hutan Mati (2018)[9] and ghost stories (as in Itim), for example.

Notable films

Notable directors

Highest-grossing horror film

Main article: List of highest-grossing films in Indonesia

Rank Title Admissions Year Director
1 KKN di Desa Penari 10.061.033 2022 Awi Suryadi
2 Satan's Slaves 2: Communion 6.391.982 2022 Joko Anwar
3 Sewu Dino 4.891.609 2023 Kimo Stamboel
4 Satan's Slaves 4.206.103 2017 Joko Anwar
5 Suzzanna: Buried Alive 3.346.185 2018 Anggy Umbara, Rocky Soraya
6 Di Ambang Kematian 3.302.047 2023 Azhar Kinoi Lubis
7 Ivanna 2.951.204 2022 Kimo Stamboel
8 Grave Torture 2.780.109 2024 Joko Anwar
10 Danur 2.736.391 2017 Awi Suryadi
10 Siksa Neraka 2.610.036 2023 Anggy Umbara

Other media

Video games

Examples of Indonesian horror games based on folklore story, such as DreadOut and Pamali: Indonesian Folklore Horror

See also


  1. ^ a b "Horror artist Suzanna dies". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 21 October 2008. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  2. ^ a b c Barker, Thomas (2013). "The Trauma of Post-1998 Indonesian Horror Films". Journal of Letters. 42 (1): 29–60. ISSN 2586-9736.
  3. ^ a b c Ferrarese, Marco. "'New kinds of monsters': The rise of Southeast Asian horror films". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  4. ^ Heeren, Katinka van (2007-06-01). "Return of the Kyai: representations of horror, commerce, and censorship in post‐Suharto Indonesian film and television". Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. 8 (2): 211–226. doi:10.1080/13583880701238688. ISSN 1464-9373. S2CID 145086314.
  5. ^ "Indonesian Horror: A Beginner's Guide". 2021-02-07. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  6. ^ a b c "New wave of horror flicks puts Indonesian cinema on map". Nikkei Asia. Retrieved 2022-01-24.
  7. ^ Singgih, Viriya (2020-02-11). "How Soeharto's Indonesia uses horror films to maintain social order". Viriya Singgih. Retrieved 2023-03-09.
  8. ^ "The terrifying folk horror film that could be nominated for an Oscar". The Independent. 2021-01-25. Retrieved 2021-12-23.
  9. ^ Times, I. D. N.; Nugraha, Sandi. "9 Film Horor tentang Akibat Melanggar Pantangan, Penuh Teror". IDN Times Jogja (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2024-01-13.