Joshua Oppenheimer’s Act of Killing showed the mortifying re-enactments of the executions of suspected communists that took place in 1960’s Indonesia. The people who carried out these horrific acts are celebrated heroes, feared in their local villages, and it’s within Oppenheimer’s Act of Killing that we meet the people responsible as they carry out the re-enactments.
In The Look of Silence, an optician who has a direct link to the genocide through a deceased family member is shown watching the first documentary, then interviewing the men himself under the pretence of an eye exam. Probing personal questions add another layer of sheer disbelief to the previous instalment, in this simple yet fascinating documentary.
People underestimate just how scary documentaries can be. You turn to horror films for your scares because you want to be detached from reality for a brief moment, maybe to see something supernatural and get the heart-racing. Much like the documentary before this, there is a genuine residual sickening feeling throughout this film. There is no big budget or back catalogue of archival footage; it is just individuals recounting stories of how they killed innocent people.
How they cut off limbs, drank their blood, tore off private body parts and chucked them all in the river. They actually did this to people, and are alive to laugh about it now. There is an air of chilling nonchalance to the way in which they describe these events, and I have no doubt that you will sit there with the same horror on your face as the Indonesian man who had his brother slaughtered; The Look of Silence.