3 terrifying thrillers turn the horror genre on its head
If you want movies that give you the heebie-jeebies, there are three good films this week to choose from.
Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” features interracial lovers and their “eventful” visit to the deceptively idyllic country home of the woman’s parents.
Jason Paul Laxamana’s “Pwera Usog” is about a cruel prank that goes awry. And Petersen Vargas’ gay-themed “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten,” follows the story of a brilliant but lonely high school student and the Fil-Am transferees he’s attracted to.
“Get Out” is darkly humorous and terrifying as all get-out: African-American photographer Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is accorded a different kind of “suburban” hospitality when his Caucasian girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) takes him to her hometown to meet her “progressive” parents, neurosurgeon Dean (Bradley Whitford) and psychiatrist Missy (Catherine Keener).
But Chris quickly notices that something is amiss when he meets the Armitages’ overly patronizing neighbors and the black servants, Walter and Georgina, who attend to their needs. Things take a turn for the twisted—and wicked—after Chris politely declines Missy’s offer to treat his cigarette addiction by way of hypnosis.
The film effectively works its “scarifying” magic on viewers because it doesn’t utilize the usual scare tactics and rote storytelling routes to shock its viewers.
To demonstrate, many of the production’s most disturbing scenes even take place in broad daylight or in brightly lit indoor sequences—from the Armitages’ creepy “annual” party, to the most disturbing bingo game you’ll see this movie season. So if you think terror dissipates when the sun goes up, you’ve got another think coming.
Guaranteed to scare the bejesus out of viewers, “Get Out” generates a sense of claustrophobic doom-and-gloom that subtly crawls and creeps on viewers as its disturbing tale slowly unfolds, and sets the audience up for its slam-bang, edge-of-your-seat finale.
“Pwera Usog” may be a little predictable, but that doesn’t make Laxamana’s latest film any less frightening—and thematically fetching, because it manages to turn the horror-thriller genre on its head.
The movie tells the cautionary tale of self-entitled teen Jean (Sofia Andres) and her enablers, Sherwin (Joseph Marco, “beautiful” but bland as always), Bobby (the reliable Albie Casiño) and Val (Cherise Castro), and how they convince Quintin (Kiko Estrada, in a career-boosting portrayal) and his “albularyo” mother, Minda (Aiko Melendez), to help them reverse the curse of their “soul-snatching” nemesis, Catalina (Eula Valdes).
It tells its oft-repeated tale wisely and productively, skillfully stringing together an urgently paced story that is cleverly detailed in social media and its director’s winking sense of mischief and menace.
The film is enhanced further by attractive actors whose beleaguered characters are astutely utilized to zero in on the cautionary elements of its themes tackling vengeance, retribution and the excesses of social media.
Like “Pwera Usog,” Vargas’ Cinema One best picture winner, “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten,” is just as disturbing—and unapologetically provocative: Bright student Felix (Khalil Ramos) stumbles into a rare source of excitement when Fil-Am brothers, Magnus (the smoldering Ethan Salvador) and Maxim Snyder (Jameson Blake), transfer to his school.
When Magnus asks Felix to help him with schoolwork, it doesn’t take long for the latter to get sucked into the problems and “intriguing” shenanigans of the attractive siblings, whose American G.I. father abandoned them and their feisty, party-going mother (Ana Capri) shortly after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991.
The dark and daring indie, one of the best films of 2016 (which was also written by Laxamana), isn’t for conservative and prude moviegoers because of the pertinent adult themes it cogently examines, and the sensitively limned “love story” that fuels its narrative conceit. It features compelling and career-boosting portrayals from Khalil, Ethan, Jameson and Ana.
“2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” is a must-see for “progressive” film buffs who are partial to exceptional movies that dare to get off the beaten track as they explore their seldom-depicted morality tales. Don’t miss it!