All tricks, no treats at horror fest
This year’s edition of Sineng Pambansa, which runs until Nov. 4 at SM cinemas, is shining the spotlight on the horror genre, with a four-film lineup that includes Gil Portes’ “Hukluban,” Romy Suzara’s “Sigaw Sa Hatinggabi,” Edgardo “Boy” Vinarao’s “Bacao” and Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes’ reboot of their 1988 cult favorite, “T’yanak” (“ang anak ni Janice,” remember?).
To our horror (no pun there), our excitement turned to headache because the lineup’s bark was worse than its bite—its storytelling style is old-school trite and musty.
In fact, other than its lecherous fertility shaman (Leo Martinez), the gorgeously photographed “Bacao”—about a sex-starved couple (Michelle Madrigal, Arnold Reyes) who has remained childless after six years of marriage—doesn’t have anything spine-tingling about it (no ghosts, dwarves, vampires, werewolves and other elementals), except its actors’ wince-inducing performances.
We aren’t sure if the comedic tone of “Sigaw Sa Hatinggabi” is intentional. It follows medium Salvacion Delavis (Regine Angeles) as she investigates the murder of a corrupt politician’s wife. The movie didn’t scare us—in fact, we were snickering over its eardrum-shattering sequences and squinting during its persistently dark chase scenes.
We were thrilled to learn that Judy Ann Santos agreed to do “T’yanak,” the “best” of the underwhelming lot—because, with the picky actress in it, this remake couldn’t be all that bad, right? Not necessarily.
With tongues firmly in cheek, Janice de Belen and Lotlot de Leon return briefly to “T’yanak” with tension-leavening cameos that boost the film’s gory-but-not-scary proceedings. As it turns out, the film is more befuddling than terrifying, and is weighed down by continuity gaffes.
To be fair, it gets off to an auspicious start, quickly establishing the details of its intriguing tale—about Julie (portrayed by Judy Ann), a childless woman who snaps out of her post-miscarriage depression after Maddie (Solenn Heussaff), the fiancée of her brother, Mark (Tom Rodriguez), finds a motherless baby in the jungle. Alas, the crying child isn’t as cuddly as he appears!
Solenn and Judy Ann turn in credible portrayals—but, they soon succumb to the production’s increasingly confounding side and back stories. Often, you’ll find yourself watching scenes that feel disparate from one another—and, its supposedly scary bits are at best stylish but sterile.
Talk about disparate and incoherent, Gil Portes’ tedious “Hukluban” takes the cake—about an immortal crone’s (Krista Miller) desperate, four-generation search for her One True Love (Kiko Matos), who will set her free from the “curse” of immortality.
Mira is wrinkled, slight and debilitated during the day, but transforms into a ravishing maiden at night. The film has a lot of shocking twists, but not enough logic to string them together.
And, like the rest of the horror fest’s entries, it has more (mind-boggling) tricks than treats!
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