Monday, November 7, 2011



Daniel (Albie Casiño) and Ahnya (Jillian Ward) witness the massacre of their parents in their very own house. They are able to escape thanks to the hesitation of hired gunman Gabriel (Paulo Avelino). En route to Pampanga, their car runs out of gas, so they decide to sleep. The next day they are awakened by a religious procession which they join in an attempt to ask for help, only to be dispersed later by the arrival of the “Abwak”, creatures that maintain human forms but could either transform into a “bayawak” or a crow. The siblings are saved by Hasmin (Lovi Poe), a mysterious barrio lass who has secrets of her own. It is not long before the two find themselves embroiled in a battle between human and “aswang”.

The story is praiseworthy because whoever wrote it decided to tap into the rich universe of Philippine mythology. This is a breath of fresh air, specially now that the horror genre seems to be saturated with ghosts that only differ in makeup and hairdo. The truth is, you would probably not call this “horror” after seeing it. “Suspense-thriller” seems to be more apt. The supernatural creatures here are not presented as something mythical or mysterious; the people in town actually treat them as a normal part of their lives. They simply run when they come. The mayor is cementing the roads so that they could not be used as tunnels by the “Abwak”. There is even a hint that the powers-that-be from both sides are negotiating with each other. Hence, it seems to be more of a “what-if” cohabitation scenario.

The CGI is good. In fact it would have been perfect had it not been for the last hurrah when one of the characters transforms and gets the last laugh. The lengthening of the snout is a bit exaggerated, which should not have been necessarily so since that part could have been mastered through acting and subtle prosthetics. Other than that, there is no more complaint about the CGI. It could even be said that this has been the best CGI Regal ever had, specially when you try to recall the funny cockroaches from the suitcase in that Juday “Kulam” film. Here, the “Abwak” are so cool to look at when they do their pre-tunnel drilling activity and when they transform into crows. This really helps a lot in giving credibility to the movie. CGI is important to establish a lot of things and it really damages the overall appeal when it is laughable. At least, here, it is not.

There is something annoying with Ward. She is just a kid who should be adorable and cute specially with her energy, but somehow she gives you the notion that she is one insufferable spoiled brat. This is evident in the first half of the movie. On the second half she is more tolerable. Perhaps, it is just the character? Casiño needs more workshops. It is hard to tell if his portrayal is okay. It is hard to tell because it is not that common for a teenager to see his parents murdered in their very own house, so as to have someone to compare him with. And then later you find yourself hostaged by supernatural beings. To say that he nails the role would be tantamount to stereotyping silent geeks who are eternally poker-faced even when in times of danger. Or again, maybe it is the character?

Poe gives a good performance here, better than her My Neighbor’s Wife gig and just one notch lower than her Temptation Island stint. Her trademark bedroom voice is still prevalent, but she is getting better in the intense scenes where she has to raise her voice to show deeper emotion. More movies for her! It is always fun to see an actress evolve. We want more Lovi! Avelino, on the other hand, seems too naive-looking to be a hired assassin. His character’s background is explained little by little as the plot unfolds, but somehow we are still not convinced. It is Marc Abaya who somehow steals their thunder and gives comic relief without sounding too corny and still maintaining the serious tone of the movie.

All in all, this movie is a decent thriller which does Philippine myth a favor by featuring our beloved local scare givers. Lately, it has always been about poltergeists caught on cam and ghosts in white who are addicted to hair rebonding. At least here, we get something truly Pinoy. The pictures shown during the opening credits are awesome by the way, you know those old school kind of photos in which the subjects gaze seriously at the camera and it gives you the creeps? It also serves as a quick background story.

2 creature(s) gave a damn:

the viewing deck said...

ang bagong alma moreno...
nice story ...

ihcahieh said...

@andros - I like the comparison, parang tugma! Regal din. Hehe.

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