‘Motel Melati’ Ending Explained & Movie Recap: What Happened To Dr. Kusano?

If you have ever imagined what could have happened if a more murderous Morticia Addams had operated Hotel Transylvania to orchestrate some truly evil shenanigans, look no further than the Indonesian horror movie Motel Melati, which brings the gothic stylization of these aforementioned ventures and amalgamates it with Asian horror lore to create a unique experience. However, the movie as a whole fails to justify its ambitious aesthetics and gothic trappings, as the storyline becomes increasingly obscure, the acting by the side characters turns forgettable, and to top it all off the scare factor doesn’t pack enough of a punch to create a lasting sensation among viewers. The ending of the movie hints at further continuation of the storyline, and there is proper scope for exploration of the lore as well, but as a viewer, I feel the narrative coherence should be prioritized before jumping on the sequel bandwagon.

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Spoilers Ahead


Why is Motel Melati Cursed?

The beginning of the movie sets the narrative tone through a classic curiosity-killed-cat scenario. The present timeline of the movie is set in 1997, as viewers follow a police inspector who comes across an old colonial establishment known as Losmen Melati (Motel Melati) at the far corner of a forest. As part of his ongoing investigation, the officer enters the motel, which has a reputation for being cursed among the locals of the nearby vicinity. Soon enough, the officer realizes that the reputation has at least some figment of truth in it, as he experiences several paranormal occurrences while moving across the darkened corners of the building. Moments later, the officer gets petrified after seeing a rotting corpse inside one of the rooms, and Melati, the strange, frail-looking owner of the establishment, uses this opportunity to ambush and hack the officer to death with an axe. We further learn that the haunted house, managed by Melati and her trusted accomplice, Golok, is essentially a den of vengeful spirits who lure unassuming visitors inside to force them into confronting their worst fears and devour the souls of its victims.

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Throughout the course of the movie, in a metanarrative way, Melati speaks directly with the audience to share details of her past—and exactly how the establishment became a house of horror. Almost a hundred years ago, during the late 19th century, Melati was born to an impoverished, outcast woman whose husband had left her to evade the responsibility of parenthood. In an utter financial crisis, Melati’s mother had made a deal with the devil as she sought help from a witch doctor to change her fortune. Mimicking a monkey’s paw situation, her wishes were fulfilled, albeit with a caveat in the form of a dreadful curse on both her and her stillborn daughter, Melati. Without a possible cure for their ailment, Melati’s mother had sought help from an outcast doctor, Kusano, who was shunned by society for his vile and morbid experiments on human corpses. The psychotic doctor was deranged to such an extent that he kept the corpse of his deceased wife inside his residence—the family villa, which later turned into the Melati Motel. Kusano took a great deal of interest in the demonic afflictions of Melati and her mother, considering them his test subjects, and promised to help them. However, even before Kusano could have treated them, the mother-daughter duo were captured by a group of witch-hunting shamans and hanged to death. The daughter of the witch doctor, who became Melati’s close friend, was able to save her in the nick of time, but by then, Melati’s mother had breathed her last, leaving Melati as an orphan. 

Later, Kusano’s son, Sigit, had shown kindness to Melati and requested that his father take her in. Kusano, who was disappointed at the untimely death of Melati’s mother (not being able to use her for his evil experimentation), ignored the pleas of Melati and Sigit as he forcibly operated on the corpse of Melati’s mother. This act of unholy transgression triggered a primordial evil to awaken and spread across the household, which infected Melati and turned her into an undead being. It invoked all the spirits who were wronged by Kusano and resulted in his suffering a gruesome, painful death in the process. Melati and Sigit grew up in the haunted household, and it is hinted that Sigit fell for Melati, who rejected his proposal after accepting her inescapable fate as an emissary of evil. It remains unknown what happened with Sigit, as Melati lived through a century thanks to her cursed past—and fed the evil spirits with the offering of unassuming human victims.

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What Happened to the Motel Boarders?

The haunting of Melati Motel is delineated in a fairly orderly manner, as three different parties visit the establishment and face the merciless, cruel face of horror, which stems as much from psychological afflictions as it does from supernatural ordeals. Initially, a family of three makes a stop at the motel while returning from the funeral of the grandmother of the youngest member of the family, Gemi. Much to their shock and horror, the vengeful spirit of the grandmother blames them for her death, which was caused by utter negligence, and kills all the members of the family one by one. Like a clockwork routine, Melati and Golok get rid of the bodies of the deceased family members by throwing the corpses into the furnace. 

Days later, an amorous couple decides to spend their first night together at the motel and gets a cruel reminder about lifelong commitment by rapidly aging to their elderly, frail selves, dying a harrowing death in the process. At the same time, a couple of miscreants decide to break into the motel, only to face the horrors of the place. 

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What Happened to Kusano?

One of the miscreants manages to flee from the scene and rush outside, but being grievously injured by Melati and Golok’s assault, he succumbs to his injuries while escaping through the forest. His corpse is found by the authorities, and as an investigation into the Melati Motel is launched, viewers are able to connect the first scene of the movie with the existing plotline. 

In Motel Melati‘s ending, the other miscreant falls into the cellar area of the motel and gets mauled to death by a savage, viciously disfigured being who emerges from a furnace door. Later, as Melati scours through the establishment, she realizes that the escaped savage being was none other than Dr. Kusano himself. His efforts to conduct unholy experimentation on the cursed corpse of Melati’s mother resulted in him being afflicted by the demonic affliction as well, which kept him alive as he was tortured by the evil spirits of the motel. After escaping from his century-long captivity, the devious doctor will wreak havoc on the world outside, possibly to such an extent that even Melati seems scared at the thought of the dreadful potential. As the movie comes to an end, Melati promises to take care of this new threat, knowing full well that the secrets of Melati Motel will not be kept hidden for much longer. In a metanarrative way, she taunts the human authorities with a direct challenge. As the movie ends with the prospect of a sequel, mystery regarding Dr. Kusano’s survival, the true nature of the evil curse, and more secrets about Melati’s past will possibly be explored in the upcoming installment, and viewers will be more than happy to see the makers take a more character-driven approach by utilizing the potential of the lore.

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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