Why Piolo was a nervous wreck while shooting horror-thriller ‘Mallari’ | Inquirer Entertainment

Why Piolo was a nervous wreck while shooting horror-thriller ‘Mallari’

/ 12:15 AM October 22, 2023



Piolo Pascual had to rely heavily on an acting coach to effectively portray three different characters from three different timelines for Derick Cabrido’s horror-thriller, “Mallari.”

The film’s producer, Mentorque Productions, transformed a farm into a community in the 1800s complete with church, park, house and huts since none of the currently established churches gave them access to their facilities because of the “sensitive topic” discussed in the story.


The story is based on the life of Fr. Jose Severino Mallari, a parish priest in the 1800s, who killed 57 people before getting caught, thereby becoming the first and only recorded Filipino serial killer. It is one of 10 entries to the 2023 Metro Manila Film Festival.


“Tita Angie Castrense was the magic behind everything we did for such a short time. If I didn’t have an acting coach, I would have surely messed things up because of the pressure,” Piolo told Inquirer Entertainment in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “We peeled back the layers of every scene. This is important because the story is written by Enrico Santos. Napakataba ng utak n’ya!”

Piolo added: “Before every shoot, Tita Angie and I would sit down to prepare. We would create backstories for each character. We also interpreted and put meaning to everything that the three characters said. You see, even if it’s fictional, I had to believe in what I was doing.”

Not chronological

The story of Mallari is expanded into an intertwining three-timeline narrative: Fr. Mallari in the 1800s; Johnrey Mallari, a grand-nephew in the 1940s; and most importantly, present-day Jonathan Mallari de Dios, a doctor and a great-grandnephew.

“It’s a film, so it’s very different from TV and stage. Everything here is magnified. Coming from doing ‘Ibarra’ and ‘Flower of Evil,’ I really had to adjust. With Tita Angie’s guidance, I was able to at least discuss and understand each character. The shoot wasn’t chronological. That’s what drove me crazy,” he recalled.

Piolo said the initial plan was to allot a week to shoot each character, only to find out during the first shooting day that this was impossible. “When I saw that another set was put up for a character I was supposed to shoot on the second week, I realized the trouble I was in. I shot the ending of the movie on Day 1, with all three characters in one scene. I realized that we couldn’t shoot chronologically because we had to save time and shoot with what’s available,” he explained.

Production value

The actor also reported that a “community set in the 1800s” was built in Lipa, Batangas, for the film. “No church accommodated us because of the film’s sensitive topic. When I saw it for the first time, all I could say was, ‘Wow!’ You see, when they pitched the story to me, the first question I asked was about its production value. Not for anything, but this film is quite significant. People are intrigued by the thought of Mallari. My producers really fulfilled what they promised,” he said.


Piolo added that working with Derick was a breeze “because he already had the entire movie in his mind.” Derick also directed the 2019 exorcism film “Clarita,” starring Jodi Sta. Maria. “He worked fast. He had his shots organized. I think the script we used was already the seventh draft. He streamlined everything. He envisioned what would come out, even how it would be edited. All I had to do was fill in the blanks for him,” Piolo said.

“He knows what he wants from me. When he felt I was lacking in something, he would approach me and show me how he envisioned the scene. He also said I really had to communicate with my eyes. He would remind me, ‘Kuya, bumibitaw ka.’ He’s very particular with the eyes, the execution. As for me, I had to be on top of my game.”

He continued: “Like what Tita Angie said, ‘Walang magandang ‘di pinaghihirapan.’ The whole time I was doing this, it felt like my heart was getting pulled out of my chest. I was so nervous—as in unli-kabog! I was intimidated by the whole concept of doing something so different. In the end, I just decided to dive in, headfirst—that’s the only way.”

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The 49th edition of the MMFF will run from Christmas Day to Jan. 7, 2024.

TAGS: movie, Piolo Pascual

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