Back in 2018, writer/director Timo Tjahjanto released an Indonesian nightmare on audiences with May the Devil Take You…
…A film about a woman named Alfie (Chelsea Islan), who seeks answers at her father’s villa along with her siblings after her father falls into a coma. What they end up uncovering is an ancient, possessing evil reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s deadites in Evil Dead, narrowly escaping with she and her sister Nara’s (Hadijah Shahab) life. The scary as hell film was deservedly a smash hit, so it’s no wonder it wasn’t long before a sequel was put into the works.
Now, Tjahjanto has returned with May the Devil Take You Too, and it’s guaranteed to be in the running for one of the scariest films of the year.
Chapter 2 picks up with Alfie, once again played by Islan, living with her sister, Nara, with Shahab also returning to the role. In the middle of the night, Alfie and Nara are abducted by a group of people all claiming to be from the same “family”, a group of orphans who were raised by an abusive man, Ayub, who they believe now haunts them and is seeking revenge after what they did to escape his grasp. Knowing about Alfie’s encounter with demons, they believe she has the power to help them. Reluctantly, Alfie does as they ask, accidentally releasing something much worse than the group ever could have expected.
May the Devil Take You was rightly compared to Raimi’s Evil Dead by many. The possessed in that film are over the top, chaotic, and gleeful in their twisted evil. The camerawork flies around the set. And there is blood. Lots of it. May the Devil Take You Too is much of the same, and, like the Evil Dead franchise, follows a similar series progression.
Unlike the first, which takes some time to build the horror, chapter 2 wastes almost no time at all. After an introduction revealing Gadis (Widika Sidmore) being tormented by Ayub and leaving bruises covering her body (and one dead body as well), we’re reintroduced to Alfie and Nara. Still haunted by their experiences, Alfie and Nara are leading a sad, troubled life. Within minutes, they’re kidnapped by masked intruders, taken to a decrepit orphanage in the middle of nowhere, and thrown into chaos. It isn’t long before the kids are pulling an absolute no no in horror and toying with a Necronomicon-esque book that unleashes Hell. Literally.
Like Evil Dead 2, this sequel understands the audience already knows what to expect, and just wants to get to the demonic insanity. Even before then, ghosts are creeping around every corner. Tjahjanto’s direction and the cinematography by Gunnar Nimpuno is of the creeping variety that has the viewer peeking in the background to catch a glimpse of something. Most of the time, there’s nothing there. And when there is, it’s something like pale-faced, red eyed ghosts hanging upside down from attic corners.
Tjahjanto takes every bit of terror from the first film and carries it over to this sequel with expert precision. If you’re hoping for scares galore, you’re going to get them. Time and again, May the Devil Take You Too had me gasping, jumping, or just sitting there with my eyes wide in abject horror as I stared at the impossibly stretchy, white faces of Devil’s demons.
The fact that nearly the entire film takes place in a desolate, rundown orphanage with dust in the air as thick as fog and a sickly yellow or pitch black darkness lighting the way only enhances the uneasy atmosphere.
May the Devil Take You Too also takes inspiration from Evil Dead 2’s relentless excitement. From the moment Alfie and the others unleash the horror, May the Devil Take You Too is a cackling, off the rails train, its demonic, pitch-forked tongue waving wildly. Tjahjanto employs a ton of fun camera tricks, tracking behind saw blades racing along walls towards victims, in-camera switcharoos between humans and demons, and an altogether frenetic energy that keeps the heart racing and the lungs screaming. May the Devil Take You Too is haunted house terror at its finest, mixing fun and genuine terror amidst scenes of cackling demons and flickering lights that make certain moments feel as if the entire universe is going to come crashing down.
Even Alfie takes on a bit of an Ash Williams role here. May the Devil Take You Too cements Isan as the hero of this franchise, exploring the character’s true abilities, going as far as to make her right hand a powerful tool as well. It’s no chainsaw, but still. Alfie is not the clumsy, dim-witted hero that Ash is though. Alfie is a tense ball of anger and frustration, spending most of her time lashing out at others or screaming at the surrounding horror. I can’t blame her, she and her sister were kidnapped after all, but the role limits Islan’s potential, making her more of a one note character than a well-rounded hero. Still, no one, and I mean no one, can display fear on their face the way Islan does. Her near constant look of wide-eyed shock is one I think we’ve all become pretty familiar with in 2020.
I keep comparing this to Evil Dead 2, but be aware, though the two have their similarities, they couldn’t be farther apart in tone. Where Evil Dead 2 is a nonsensical, goofy romp at a cabin in the woods, May the Devil Take You Too is a disturbing story centered around trauma and themes so dark the film thankfully only hints at them, because the hint is unsettling enough.
With a skin-prickling score by Rooftop Sound, loads of gory imagery and a talented cast of potential bodies, Tjahjanto has established what will hopefully be a terrifying new franchise with other sequels to come.
It’s safe to say, the devil has taken me, and I can’t wait to see more eerie adventures with Alfie and the realm of the damned.
May the Devil Take You Too comes to Shudder on October 30th.
By Matt Konopka