When two friends grab lunch in a packed restaurant known for its rendang (an Indonesian dish), they find their friendship tested when the kitchen runs out of food… and all hell breaks loose! How far will they go for that last portion of their favorite dish? Rendang of Death, from Indonesian studio Percolate Galactic, is a wildly entertaining animated short that will delight audiences with how far it pushes its concept, while subtly infusing a quite disturbing metaphor.
From the opening scene of Rendang of Death, there is something very pleasing about its visual flair. Although reminiscent of other animated content created for adults, there is an immediate energy to the film, which grips from the onset. As the calm dining experience quickly turns into utter chaos, the short employs a rapid pace to ensure the entertainment never stops. With the insanity constantly escalating, the filmmakers switch between the general view of the restaurant getting destroyed and the close-ups of the bloody fights, allowing us the briefest of moments to catch our breath. The scenes where fellow diners seem to be totally unaffected by the utter destruction happening all around them really takes the comedy to the next level and prevents the film from becoming too overwhelming or repetitive.
At first sight, the film is what some (myself included) would qualify as BANANAS! They don’t shy away from the violence here, with some of the gory details (see image above) hilarious but violent nonetheless, and the whole film is quite blood-soaked. Yet, this is not violence for the sake of violence. Towards the end, we realize that hidden in plain sight, this is actually a metaphor, a social commentary of sort. The anger and rage of the characters might have distracted you from catching it earlier on, but when the cook comes out, we collectively, along with the characters in the film, experience an aha moment. Despite this, the film manages to keep its humorous tone throughout and never strays into heavy-handed moralistic territory. Concluding in a very clever way, Rendang of Death wraps the film with a tone that captures both the superficial layer of the film (that entertaining, insane massacre) and the message within.
Selected at the 2021 edition of SXSW, Rendang of Death has a vibe that feels undeniably well-suited to the Austin based festival. With the Percolate Galactic team working on a number of projects, including commissions for prestigious clients such as Netflix, after witnessing the insanity of Rendang of Death, here at S/W we impatiently await further original films from the studio. However, as co-founder Samantha Jackson explains, the studio has some bigger aims, beyond their love of creating original content: “Creating our own shorts is always fun, but what we really want is for Indonesian animation to reach the entire world. Whatever that takes, that’s what we’re aiming for.”