Saturday, August 25, 2012

Guni Guni

♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Mylene Castro (Lovi Poe) is a nursing student with a past that she would rather keep hidden, but living in a haunted boarding house with tenants harboring their own share of secrets unleashes something supernatural that threatens all of them, as the true stories behind their personas are revealed one by one, including that of landlord Tatay Nanding (Jaime Fabregas). Ghosts, liquor induced hallucinations, or figments of imagination?

The style of horror used is somehow reminiscent of Insidious, in terms of the scarce illumination and jerky movements that create a rather creepy vibe. The only complaint one could probably have would be those ugly eyes that characterize the doppelgangers. They look hilarious, as though they were Shaider’s siblings or something to that effect. White contact lenses and one day of workshop on doing freaky faces would have sufficed, instead of relying on CGI.

In terms of story, there seems to be some sort of confusion on which to highlight. Should it be Mylene’s story arc or Tatay Nanding’s? The latter would have been the appropriate choice as it justifies the connection among the cast members, with all of them living under one roof, effectively tagging the movie as a haunted house flick. Or perhaps the director wanted to digress from this subgenre and instead toss in something thought of as unique. The end product is a confused narrative that does not know which storyline to focus on.

In terms of acting, the movie benefits from the strength of its supporting actors. Gina Alajar, Jaime Fabregas, Julia Clarete, and Isay Alvarez are very effective character actors whose acting repertoire successfully complements Poe's rather subdued acting as well as the bland portrayal of that Benjamin Alves guy.

Overall, this one is a good thriller but not without shortcomings in terms of story and the rather unjustified focus on Lovi Poe’s character, at least in the promo materials. Come to think of it, the boarding house appears to be the main force driving the plot forward. Mylene’s dilemma is just one of the several subplots present, and yet hers gets top billing and more screen time, when those of the others are just as interesting. It is also this marketing slant that gives some people the notion that the movie is a rip-off of the Thai movie Alone, the follow-up horror project of the directors of Shutter. Luckily, it is not. The siamese twins angle seems to be just a giant red herring thrown in to spice things up, but ends up confusing everyone because it could not  converge well with the main story arc.

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