Any afficionados of Asian horror films, particularly from Thailand, will quick to notice that Lentera Merah feels like a second-rate material from the factory. Thus, when Hanung Bramantyo, the director, tries to make the film to be in par with other films from that particular genre grouping, the result is somewhat confusing.
Why so? While it wishes to reach the maturity of thrilling horror, influence of Indonesian-style horror films, as seen on the penultimate scene, bogs down the intention carefully crafted from the beginning of the film. The premise of the film, which revolves around the publication of a campus magazine aiming to reveal nothing but the truth, is intriguing enough, as seldom we see horror and political-themed story match into one. Yet, this plot is twisted into another creature-filled horror films, and instead of beguiling audience with thoughtful lines, the film quickly chooses deus-ex-machina solution, by resoluting the problems through religious intervention.
If that sounds familiar, because it has been used way too many times. While Bramantyo clearly has reduced its presence, yet it has become pivotal enough in the whole structure of the storyline. It might be interesting to see how Bramantyo polishes his future thrilling horror films, if he will make any, because what we get on the film, at least, shows an interesting start.