Hide & Seek Minako (2017) Review

Otherwise known as Petak Umpet Minako in Indonesia, it was originally released in its native country back in September 2017 but only made it to our local cinemas two years later in 2019.

The Indonesian horror movie, which received an international title under Hide & Seek Minako, follows a group of ex-classmates (among them are Miller Khan’s Baron and Wendy Wilson’s Gaby) agree to play a hide-and-seek game called Hitori Kakurenbo using a Japanese doll known as Minako at their ramshackle high school. The idea was initiated by Vindha (Regina Rengganis), who used to be a victim of bullying during her high-school days. Soon, the hide-and-seek game turns fatal as one by one is killed by the “Watchers”.

At first glance, the premise behind Hide & Seek Minako sounds like a potentially entertaining horror movie. It combines the elements of J-horror, supernatural and even zombie tropes all packaged into one.

Not to mention the majority of this movie takes place within the confines of an old high-school building, which would add a claustrophobic feel. And interestingly enough, writer-director Billy Christian forgo the conventional storytelling method typically seen in horror movies. Instead, what we get here is a horror movie told in a non-linear style — a narrative trick that could make a movie all the more intriguing worth paying attention for, particularly when it is done right.

While it does sound good on paper, the overall execution is a different story altogether. Despite clocking at a supposedly lean 87 minutes, the movie feels surprisingly erratic with an irregular pacing every now and then. It doesn’t help that the non-linear narrative style is more of an empty gimmick than something which supposed to lure us into the storyline. Apparently, the decision to jump the story back and forth with numerous flashbacks dampen the thrilling aspect of the movie, making the horror moments look like an afterthought.

Just about everything about this movie is plain monotonous and worst, it hardly feels scary or suspenseful. I have never seen Billy Christian’s previous movies before but judging from his past filmography, where he directed mostly horror genre including 2015’s Tuyul: Part 1 and 2016’s Rumah Malaikat, he should have been considered a genre specialist by now. But I’m sad to say that Hide & Seek Minako is like the work of a rookie director who has little experience in horror genre. The Minako doll itself, which gradually morphed into a full-scale human figure, doesn’t look intimidating enough to begin with. The numerous stabbing and killing scenes are disappointingly bloodless and even with a toned-down P13 rating, that is hardly an excuse to make the scenes dull. Although the zombie make-up is fairly decent, the same cannot be said with their screaming sound effect. It’s like as if the director forgets to enhance the sound to a more shivering manner during post-production.

The characters fare even worst and this is largely due to Christian’s incompetent direction, which makes us hardly care about them. They are more like cardboard cutouts and for all the running and screaming, none of them actually delivers.