Monday, December 27, 2010

Dalaw

♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Stella (Kris Aquino) decides to marry Anton (Diether Ocampo), the love of her life, four years after her first husband's death in a car accident. Much to the delight of her son (Maliksi Morales), the two get married and are soon after haunted by a vengeful ghost, which is later identified as Stella's "Dalaw" by Manang Olga (Gina Parreño), the psychic caregiver of Anton's mother.

Perhaps being surrounded by a competent support cast is what makes Kris Aquino's acting tolerable here. Gina Parreño drops a classic Pinoy movie one-liner in almost every sentence, but her delivery is just the right mix of campy and credible that you get to admire her acting repertoire. She should have won the Supporting Actress Award over Eugene Domingo. The only other nominee was Alessandra de Rossi for the same film. She is brilliant and consistent here but her role here is too short. Ina Feleo also does a good job. Susan Africa as well. Diether Ocampo is okay. Karylle, who appears in medias res, is okay. Even Empress does her best in such a minimal role. The weak link here acting-wise would be the kid, then Kris.

The obligatory red herring is tossed in early in the movie. After seeing one too many horror flicks like this you should have already gathered enough experience to not fall for the same trick and start looking for other clues. This is where this movie succeeds, in my opinion. The false clues are rubbed in your face ab initio, but the real ones are hidden with just the right amount of subtlety for you to easily overlook it. However, instead of building up for an interesting plot reveal, the movie seems to drag and just introduce the twist in one fell swoop, which makes you go "Ok, that's it? Lame."

Every ghost story has its mascot. For Feng Shui it was Lotus Feet. For Sukob it was the Flower Girl. In this movie, the mascot suffers from an identity crisis. Early in the movie it appears as a shadow, then evolves into a "taong grasa" ("May taong grasa sa ilalim ng silya!!!" HAHAHA) then becomes all muddy, then rips off Sadako crawling out of a cabinet. In its last appearance it looks like that alien from Predator fresh from a mud bath.

How do Kris Aquino horror movies work, honestly? Why do people come in throngs to see her "act"? Well, in fairness to Kris her acting here is not at all stellar but decent enough to be tolerable. She seems to have already graduated from the "Kunot-Noo" school of acting (the same one Richard Gutierrez subscribes to) and has now moved on to the "Paos" school of acting. Every time she shrieks "Paaaaolo! Paaaaolo!" you get to wonder if she had sore throat when they shot those scenes.

So back to the question: is it Chito Roño? We could rule him out since he does not direct this movie. The story? Possible, although compared to this one Sukob and Feng Shui had stronger story lines. The special effects? This one has only a few although most are still laughable but not that obvious. The sound effects? This movie just abuses the sound effects, some of which are already eardrum-threatening and plain weird like that one where there seems to be a chorus of flies excitedly humming over a piece of shit. So what makes Kris Aquino horror movies watchable? I have no idea. Perhaps the thought of Kris being chased by ghosts and evil entities out for revenge? Or maybe the mere fact of being Kris in a Kris Aquino horror movie does the trick.

There is a small muddy twist at the end coming from the taxi compartment, which seems to defy logic but obviously placed there as a last-ditch attempt to scare you. Unfortunately they could not even get the CGI right so it is a bit laughable.

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