Is The Womb Based on a True Story?

A Fajar Nugros directorial venture, ‘The Womb’ or ‘Inang’ is a 2022 Indonesian horror film. The plot revolves around Wulan (Naysila Mirdad), a young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy. Not wanting to undergo an abortion and having no other choice, Wulan decides to give the child up for adoption. She meets Eva (Lydia Kandou) and Agus (Rukman Rosadi), a middle-aged couple who seems lovely and caring in their first meeting. They even ask Wulan to move in with them for the duration of the pregnancy. However, as Wulan soon learns, her hosts have a sinister plan for her.

As a horror film, ‘The Womb’ explores Javanese occult practices and underscores the struggles that a single, working-class mother faces in a city like Jakarta. If that has made you wonder whether ‘The Womb’ is inspired by actual events, we got you covered.

Is The Womb a True Story?

No, ‘The Womb’ is not based on a true story, though elements of reality are embedded into its narrative. Nugros developed the film from a script written by Deo Mahameru. It is based on the director’s experience of watching pregnant women traveling the KRL Commuter Line along their journey from the BSD City area in Indonesia. Nugros subsequently built a story around this concept by focusing on how these women were treated and the exploitation they endured. Trains have been an important part of the director’s life in his youth. His father used to work at a Balai yasa or a railway maintenance facility.

The Javanese occult features prominently in the narrative of the film. The character of Bergas (Dimas Anggara), Eva and Agus’ son, was born on “Rebo Wekasan,” the last Wednesday in the month of Sapar on the Hijri Calendar. In the film, it’s a bad sign for a child to be born on that day, and a cleansing ritual must be performed to separate them from their “Sukerto,” or the misfortunes these children are born with. The concepts of Rebo Wekasan and Sukerto are rooted in Javanese tradition. Purification ceremonies are often held in Jakarta and other parts of Indonesia to get rid of a child’s Sukerto. Nugros connected these traditional beliefs to his narrative about the exploitation of women.

Ultimately, ‘The Womb’ is also a film about the extent the parents will go to keep their children safe, and this is true as much as it is for Wulan as it is for Eva and Agus. ‘The Womb’ marks Nugros’ first foray into the horror genre. After making the film, he reportedly had to see a professional psychologist as he had developed eating and sleeping disorders. He had never made a film before where he had to cross the moral lines consciously. According to the filmmaker, ‘The Womb’ definitely took him out of his comfort zone, but the experience was gratifying. He once told the reporters that he hoped the film would be received well by the general public and that he would love to make more horror films in the future.

Read More: The Womb Ending, Explained: What Happens to Wulan?