Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Road


A man points a gun to his head and pulls the trigger. 2008. Rookie police officer Luis (TJ Trinidad) is awarded a medal of valor despite his inexperience. A woman (Jaclyn Jose) asks for his help to follow-up on the case of her two daughters who went missing twelve years ago. Three teenagers go out for a test drive which leads them into an abandoned road where a car that does not have a driver repeatedly harasses them. 1998. A quiet young man lives alone in an old house. One day while walking down “the road” he encounters two stranded sisters asking for help for their car. 1988. Carmela (Carmina Villaroel) is married to an extreme to the core Catholic pastor (Marvin Agustin), indiscreetly commits adultery, and beats up her son. The plot goes backwards in that part 1 happens in 2008 and jumps a decade back for each of the second and third segments.

Question and Answer.

Q: If I only have time to watch one segment, which one should I watch? A: Ikaw na ang busy? Part one has this Silent Hill creepy kind of vibe maybe because of the appearance of ghosts who are not too black and white for their own good. The urban legend of a haunted car that causes road accidents also benefits this segment because the director gets to play up a popular horror story that you might have already heard of before (for example : Concha Cruz, if you are from the south). The story is set in the evening and the darkness establishes an ambiance that is creepy overall. The second part borrows many themes you might have already seen in one too many Hollywood thrillers, although this one is probably the best executed among the three. It sheds light to the main story and answers some questions left hanging from part one. The cinematography is superb. “The road” bathing in hues of gold is an awesome sight so pleasing to the eyes yet turns out to be ironic given how the story progresses. The third part is rather short and is more of a history lesson that confirms your doubts and guesses about the characters. Carmina Villaroel is successful in portraying a child beater and nagging mother/wife that would easily cause anyone to have unwanted trauma.

Q: Is this better than Sigaw? A: This is more of a personal opinion. No. That one was badly acted but well executed, specially the sound effects and scoring, which seem to be Laranas’ strong points as a director of the suspense/horror genre. This one is well acted and well executed. The problem is with the story. To give credit where it is due, the manner by which the story is told is brilliant, but disregarding the technical aspects this would only be because if they did it chronologically, it would not be as engaging, plot-wise. Since everything is told backwards the twists are effective revelations for the mere fact that if you narrate it in a chronological way, the reasons and causes will be presented first, hence, killing any opportunity for dramatic revelation and a Eureka moment. Because of this realization, you will feel a bit discontented as you leave the cinema, although just a little.

Q: Will this movie give me the creeps? A: Yes. The sound effects and the musical score blend quite well to foster a creepy atmosphere aided by cinematography that goes with the mood. The ghosts do not endorse any brand of baby powder which rids us of the over recycled ghost template we have been seeing over and over again as of late.

Q: Who is Barbie Forteza? Do you know her? A: According to Wikipedia, Barbara Ambas Forteza was born in Biñan, Laguna in July 31, 1997 and is active since 2007 as an actress, commercial model, and host. No, I do not know her either.

Q: Is there a twist? A: Yes, there is a big one gloating at you from the very beginning.

Q: You gave Sarah and Gerald only three clovers but gave this movie four. How dare you? A: Thank you very much for that wonderful question, network troll. The number of clovers I give depends on only three aspects: acting, story, and enjoyment. The story loses its novelty if told from another angle, which is the only minus I see in this movie. Thus, the 4/5.

The only lingering question I have in mind right now is the play date. Why, GMA Films? I know that if you believe in your product, there is nothing to fear, but given the circumstances, it might be an uphill battle.

One: Won’t Last a Day Without You. Fresh from a back-to-back blockbuster in the 275M – 350M peso range, expect the Star Cinema/Viva tandem to have all the momentum. Yes, they are obviously milking the cow and would be laughing their way to the bank with combined 7 digit earnings by the end of this year, but then there is also the Sarah-Gerald tandem, which owned the box office crown before No Other Woman and Praybeyt Benjamin came along.

Two: the MMFF. Never mind Twilight since that one is always frontloaded anyway, but movies with good word of mouth need some time to rake in the cash. With the MMFF approaching in less than a month, this might be difficult to achieve for you.

Anyway, I am still hoping that this movie would join the 100M peso club, in which there are only four local movies so far this year, which is kind of depressing. Maybe you should ask Star Cinema to give you a seminar on how to effectively market your movie. Sayang e, maganda pa naman. But let’s see. Ika nga ni Ate Vi, "You can never can tell." Prove me wrong.

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