Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Quick Fire Horror Movie Review. Today we are taking a look at Indonesian Pregnancy Horror The Womb. This movie has been recently added to Netflix. Originally titled Inang, which I believe translates to Host? I suppose Pregnancy Horror wouldn’t really be the correct term for this type of movie. The Womb is a mix of genres falling somewhere between a psychological horror and a thriller. The expectant or new parent theme is key, here, though. Much like it was in Inside, Rosemary’s Baby, Baby Ruby and other, similar movies. I will actually be throwing together a list of similar horror films soon. Keep an eye out for that. I will link it here when it is done.
The Womb follows the story of a young woman who falls pregnant. Unable to afford to raise her baby. She agrees to allow it to be adopted by a quirky older couple. Feeling very much like an Asian version of the aforementioned Rosemary’s Baby. This movie is incredibly slow paced and light on the horror. It is almost a Horror Adjacent. Hence why I have included this as a Quick Fire Review. Quick Fire Horror Reviews are shorter format than my standard. Let’s take a look.
The Womb (Inang) follows the story of Wulan. Wulan has fallen pregnant to a deadbeat man she met on Facebook. Wulan is working a menial job with a lecherous manager. She lives in a tiny home that she can’t afford and is quickly becoming desperate. Wanting the best for her child. She contacts an older couple. They offer to accommodate her in their large house until she gives birth. They will then adopt the child allowing her to visit whenever she likes. Wulan accepts but quickly begins to feel uneasy with the agreement.
The pregnancy theme is a fairly common one in horror. The fears and concerns that come with carrying a child are easily exploited for scares. The mother’s desire to do the best for her unborn baby can make for an interesting story prop. Be it through natural suspicion of those around her. Or having to defend herself and her child from threats. Mama bears make for fantastic horror protagonists. I think most people recognise pregnancy as being a vulnerable stage of life. In turn, this makes the characters in such movies easy to relate to and to sympathise with.
Movies frequently use pregnancy as a tool for some horrifying scenes of violence. Dream Home and Inside being two perfect examples of this. Others manage to utilise either real or imagined threat as is the case with Rosemary’s Baby and Baby Ruby. The Womb falls, predominantly, into the latter category. There is a distinct similarity to Rosemary’s Baby here. Much of the horror plays out in a similar way to the seminal horror classic. Director Fajar Nugros attempts to build tension through mounting paranoia. It works fairly effectively but feels all too familiar.
We have been here before. Despite themes of the occult and satanism being pushed to one side. With The Womb, there is an inescapable sense of Deja-vu. The elderly couple, Agus and Eva, seem a little quirky. They are almost overly accommodating of Wulan. They have a bizarre insistence on Wulan consuming certain, specific, foods and drinks. Something else which is deeply reminiscent of Polanski’s horror masterpiece. As the movie goes on, this feeling of familiarity only grows. Wulan becomes more paranoid and begins to believe something is wrong. Moments of subtle exposition hint at the family’s tainted past. Wulan’s suspicions grow and the tension increases.
The Womb then takes something of a turn. The plot switches up a little in a somewhat unexpected and welcome way. Although not having a tremendous impact on the overall feeling of the movie. It does wash away some of those feelings of “seen it all before” that the movie was all too guilty of. The pacing changes as a result of this and the movie feels a little more fresh. It doesn’t, however, manage to shake the predictability that haunts it throughout. Despite being a somewhat interesting horror. The Womb offers few surprises and even fewer scares.
Naturally, horror movies like this tend to avoid jump scares. They usually place their focus on atmosphere and tension. With this in mind, it’s not as if The Womb is devoid of such traits. It’s all just a little cliched and not particularly original. In attempting to unsettle the viewer. The Womb invites them to play a guessing game of “what will happen next”. A game that the majority of horror fans will win every time. It has simply all been done before. Whether Wulan is hiding in a closet or listening in on a conversation. It is easy to see what is coming and the resulting outcomes are always easy to predict.
The Womb doesn’t manage to do much with its impressive location, either. A large house surrounded by forest offers hints of potential. Trees to hide behind and different parts of the house to investigate. It is all very tantalising but never truly realised. The fact that the movie runs for nearly two hours does not help. Two hours is a big ask for any horror movie. You are just begging for the viewer to lose interest. The quickly dissipating tension and predictability do nothing to support the glacial pace. The movie’s heavy drama leaning becomes its downfall. It is just not that interesting. If you dislike slow burn horror. This is unequivocally not the movie for you.
This is still a watchable movie, for the patient, though. Fans of psychological horror will likely find plenty to enjoy. The Indonesian setting makes for interesting visuals. There are some excellent, tongue in cheek, moments of humour, as well. Acting is generally decent. The elderly couple, played by Lydia Kandou and Rukman Rosadi, are quirky and well acted. Naysila Mirdad, as Wulan, is a sympathetic protagonist portrayed believably. Dimas Anggara, as Bergas, is tons of fun. I loved him randomly breaking out into English. An Asian media trope that never gets old for me. The whole cast is great.
Cinematography is fine and locations are interesting. The dichotomy between the large, opulent, house and the deprived area of Wulan’s home is stark. It does a nice job of highlighting her plight and desperation. Pacing is a mixed bag. The opening of the movie takes a long time to get going. It quickens up as the movie goes on, though, leading to a speedy final quarter. An ending that is a mix of both surprising and predictable seems fitting. All in all, The Womb is promising but bogged down by its familiarity and flaws.
The Womb is a slow paced horror drama that can be both interesting and overly familiar. Low on scares and predictable but with some decent atmosphere and tension. The slow pacing will likely put viewers off. The commitment to Wulan's story comes at the expense of the horror. The similarities to movies like Rosemary's Baby can be a little jarring, too. Still, this is a watchable horror with a few good moments. An okay option for fans of slow burn, drama heavy, horror movies.