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'May the Devil Take You Too' Review: Evil is as evil does, again

Timo Tjahjanto's 'May the Devil Take You Too' summons almighty evil once more, this time in an orphanage where the kids weren't alright.

'May The Devil Take You Too' summons evil once again.
(Image: © Shudder)

Our Verdict

'May The Devil Take You Too' dips back into the same possession well but isn't as refreshing or satisfying this time around, as there's less impact made with more overt Sam Raimi appreciations.

For

  • 🔥 When full gonzo, it's golden.
  • 🔥 Chelsea Islan kicks undead ass.

Against

  • 🔥 A more predictable sequel.
  • 🔥 Runs too long.
  • 🔥 Weak effects glimpses.

If you have you not already, watch Timo Tjahjanto’s May the Devil Take You. It’s Timo’s most-definite homage to Sam Raimi and Evil Dead, which I hold no grudges against. Now he’s back for another round because everyone knows the devil strikes twice, but my enthusiasm doesn’t match previous highs. More frantic camera angles, more blotted white makeup to denote Timo’s deadheads, and yet, evil doesn’t strike the same plateaus of fear. At nearly two hours, tedium outweighs terror by the time Satan’s army claims another batch of unfortunate souls.

Alfie (Chelsea Islan) and Nara (Hadijah Shahab), who’ve already survived one brush with Hell’s disciples, are thrust back into the mouth of madness once again. This time, Alfie is kidnapped and driven to Bahtera Orphanage, by a collection of teenagers who were abused by the facility’s caretaker Pak Ayub (Tri Hariono). Budi (Baskara Mahendra) and his parentless siblings lit Ayub ablaze as an act of retaliation, ending their imprisonment. Now, the demonic Moloch has teamed with Ayub’s spirit to slaughter the orphans one by one. Alfie is enlisted by force to defeat Moloch and break Ayub’s curse, using some Necronomicon-like bible to counter-harness the same powers.

Suppose you attended the virtual film festival collaboration dubbed Nightstream. In that case, you’d be correct to comment on the narrative similarities between May the Devil Take You Too and Kimo Stamboel’s The Queen Of Black Magic. It’s uncanny, in ways, but here’s why that matters: Indonesian horror has infiltrated American catalogs to the point where I’m beginning to understand complex themes through cinematic recurrence. Even bringing in Joko Anwar’s Impetigore, which also features estranged family values, each filmmaker addresses the absence of parents, emphasizing offspring who fend for themselves (under extreme conditions). Timo wastes no time painting Ayub as a vile, perverse, unconscionable monster who projects evilness meant to disturb, someone who can be the villain May the Devil Take You Too deserves.

It’s a sequel not without merits. Motivations and advancing backstory benchmarks suffer as the film pushes its resurrection a bit hard, but not without graphic gnarliness. The times gore shocks viewers, faces are torn upwards as the roof of one’s mouth is pulled back from behind, or muscle tendons are exposed. Alfie is an incited hero who fights with every ounce of her untainted soul to vanquish evils that toss around saw blades or form bedroom unions with accomplices or inspire some real nasty bouts of religious anarchy. Timo throws the camera’s lens around like it’s gliding on a paper airplane at times, giving this kinetic feel to the abandoned location. One needn’t strain brain muscles to understand why Timo would desire another crack at Alfie’s undead universe. If only it weren’t so familiar and underwhelming.

There’s a real issue with some of the effects in May the Devil Take You Too, where animation is heavily favored but insufficiently represented. One specific sequence entails fingers that reach out from a character’s mouth, followed by some Resident Evil lookin’ flower-end tentacle. It’s a rough picture, along with other ghoulish overlays and instances where SFX aren’t cleanly employed. Timo has achieved such stunning and savage visual horror notes in the past, but cannot replicate equal notoriety this time sans a crucifix death pose or Alfie’s deepthroat French kiss with a turned victim. A movie this situationally insane shouldn’t be as chaotically unremarkable, which is a larger issue that amplifies the sluggish and overdrawn duration.

May the Devil Take You Too owes so much to Raimi, from a saw-blade-perspective take that turns cinematography into a rail shooter to an eerily refitted finale from Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead. A destroyed structure, the malevolent entity that emerges from the ground (alright, another hat-tip practical from Timo’s team), the dance with el diablo? My problem is not with where influences are drawn (Timo does a mean Raimi impression), but instead in reuse and having watched these homages executed better. May the Devil Take You plays with more frenzy and freneticism. May The Devil Take You Too strains to justify playing in the same sandbox, as ties latch to Alfie’s previous brush with blasphemy. It’s crazy, it’s adept in slaughter tendencies, yet never bowls us over like the possessed bronco we know Timo can unleash.

Maybe in a trimmed state, somewhere around ninety minutes, May the Devil Take You Too could pack the one-two sequel punch fans might expect. Timo Tjahjanto very evidently goes for his Evil Dead II moment, as you could side-by-side specific frames and consider the screenshots twins (alongside other classics as well, hence that inverted spider-crawl), only without the energy that instantly had me cheering May The Devil Take You. I recognize how my last statement describes a film where someone's fingers symbolize devil horns, like they’re at a metal concert, to summon jagged steel that plants into the villain’s skull, but it’s not all regurgitated grooviness. Feels more like we’re going through motions scribbled in blood within the pages of a heretic manifesto, which pains me to conclude about one of my most anticipated horror releases of this godforsaken dumpster-fire year.

May the Devil Take You Too will be available on Shudder October 29th, 2020.