Love That Kills (2023) Movie Review

The great Indonesian director, Garin Nugroho, has released his latest film entitled Killing Love Poems. It is an adaptation of his own collection of love poems, Adam, Hawa and Durian, which was published in the 1990s.

In a detailed description of his book, Garin offers another way to trace experiences as well as anxiety through love-themed poems. Through this film, Garin will pour out all his feelings in a visual form. Will this poetry adaptation end well?

As a production house, Starvision even explained that Killing Love Poems will bring “A romance that should end beautifully becomes a terrible terror.” So, it can already be known that there will be elements of romance, thriller, and terror-filled horror that build the storyline of this film.

How is the execution?

Love That Kills (2023) Synopsis

Ranum (Mawar Eva de Jongh) is a woman who is always trapped by beautiful words, both from men and women who end up betraying her. Strangely, they were found sadistically dead by a mysterious figure.

The Ranum family drama is twisted in intrigue, a poetic, romantic situation, which immediately turns into terror. When Ranum wanted to get to know a poet named Hayat (Baskara Mahendra), the horror returned.

Ranum decides to keep looking for true love that is beautiful and brings kindness to ward off the tragedy she is experiencing. Who is this vicious terror-spreading figure, and will Ranum be able to win his love?

Love That Kills (2023) Movie Review

Crazy poetic thriller

As an adaptation of poetry, it seems not surprising that this film presents a narrative that is poetic, stiff, and quite touching. For those who like poetry, there are thousands of meanings, maybe Killing Love Poems will suit them.

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Uniquely, Garin packaged this love poem into a romantic horror thriller film that is not shy about showing blood and violence. Typical of the director, he also inserts various elements of sexuality to describe his characteristics. From the start, the atmosphere was immediately built tense through the score and the combination of crazy acting. Maybe it’s an alternative to present a horror atmosphere, without any supporting visualization.

Unfortunately, the early rounds continue to present the conversation in a poetic way. As a result, the audience may not be able to grasp the intent or storyline that Garin wants to convey. It was only in the middle, when Laksmi (Ayu Laksmi) and Anna (Raihaanun) were talking, did the film begin to make sense.

The storyline that jumps irregularly, makes Killing Love Poems full of riddles. What really happened? To find out, it takes a strong will to survive to the end of the film. Instead of horror full of art, the storyline is not clear where to go.

Great acting by the cast

On the other hand, it should be acknowledged that Garin has chosen an Indonesian cast ensemble that is capable of performing his role well. As Ranum, Mawar displays a character who is innocent, aloof, but can be sadistic and crazy. One of the interesting parts of her character, when Mawar recites the verses of a poem when killing someone.

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Do not forget the acting and chemistry of Ayu Laksmi and Raihaanun. They are Mawar’s closest relatives, who also have a dark past. Even though both of them live in trauma, Laksmi and Anna have managed to grow as stronger individuals in the present.
There is also Baskara Mahendra, a poet who has succeeded in capturing Ranum’s heart. He is also described as having a fear of his father’s pencil, in which it evokes memories of why his father died.

Lack of concern for forms of trauma

As explained above, Garin attaches his characters with a sense of trauma to build this horror story. Each of them has wounds, which they have spent years trying to deal with. However, the director did not delve deeply into it.

Presumably it should be noted, that mental problems can not just be discussed casually. There are things that need to be investigated more deeply, not only with case examples but also with an intense approach.

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An uncomfortable example is when Laksmi yelled at Anna harshly when she was dealing with her trauma. Even if it works in the end, isn’t that a bad example of eliminating anxiety in one’s self? Or when Hayat tries to solve Ranum’s thorny problem with a poem about love. Only with that, all disputes are over and the perpetrators of terror willingly accept their bitter life.

Neither makes sense nor is it relevant to reality.

Love That Kills (2023) Conclusion

Killing Love Poems is not a suitable dish for audiences who want to be entertained. There are puzzles, violence, blood, a sense of trauma, which makes this film quite difficult to enjoy. For those who like poetry, poetic narration full of meaning can be of added value to this film.

In addition to attractive visuals and a great lineup, Killing Love Poems not yet able to satisfy the audience in terms of story. There are many things that are too fast and not presented in depth. Presumably, the director also needs to be more adaptive to the language and current conditions.


Zephyrine is an experienced film critic who has worked for many magazines and websites specializing in cinema. She has a deep education in film history and theory, as well as a passion for classic and independent films. Writing style: Zephyrine always evaluates films objectively and honestly, not influenced by external factors such as the fame of actors or directors. She often focuses on the content, screenplay, technique, and personal feelings to provide insights and reviews of the film. Her writing style is easy to understand and familiar to readers, but also professional and profound. Notable articles: "Step Up" - Success comes from the perseverance and relentless effort of young people "The Social Network" - A fantastic documentary film about the birth of Facebook "Moonlight" - A touching story about love and the essence of humanity "Nomadland" - A poignant journey of a mature woman "Parasite" - A sensational film of Korean cinema with profound social messages.

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