Thursday, December 25, 2014

Feng Shui 二

10 years after the events in the previous film, the haunted bagua continues to claim innocent lives before it finds its way to Lester (Coco Martin), a streetwise thug who has been commissioned by Lotus Feet's grandniece to retrieve it. As expected, he is showered with good luck: he easily gets cash through various means; his father who abandoned her mother (Carmi Martin) five years ago suddenly comes back and the three are reunited; they even transfer to a new house, the real estate agent of which happens to be Joy (Kris Aquino). She has finally moved on from the unfortunate events as the bagua’s owner a decade prior, but her chance meeting with Lester in the midst of destroying the Chinese lucky charm brings back more than memories, as Lotus Feet aims to go full circle and double the fun by getting back at all her cursed possession's previous owners.

Chito Roño tried his best, but his best is not good enough. One could see and would probably appreciate his effort in trying to come up with a decent sequel to what is considered to be a massive box office hit based on 2004 standards. There is no question regarding his expertise when it comes to combining spooky visuals with jarring sound effects for effective shock value. If this is what you are looking for, then be glad to know that the movie is peppered with such scenes, although the tricks gets old rather quickly that the ones near the end already elicit uncomfortable laughter instead of genuine scares. The cinematography is as inconsistent as Coco Martin’s guyliner, with some sequences sporting a grainy feel inappropriate for a thriller that is not trying to be another Paranormal Activity.

What made the first movie sensational despite it bordering on ridiculous was how it attempted to elevate the Filipino horror genre from the cheap tricks of Shake Rattle and Roll proportions to a more systematized thriller echoing the likes of the Final Destination franchise. Here they seem to be testing the waters if a sequel would work, but instead of focusing on the orchestrated deaths which made the first movie interesting and rather hilarious, an attempt is made to break the curse once and for all by gathering all the previous bagua owners. It could have worked if they had a well-developed plot in mind, but the storyline falls just apart after the first act.

The movie starts strong by capitalizing on your memory of its prequel but after a few deaths here and there, they run out of clever ideas. Perhaps this is the reason why the director suddenly shifts gears and delivers an unintentional comedy by banking on an overtly greedy Lily (Cherry Pie Picache) and a no non-sense elder (Joonee Gamboa) who unceremoniously slaps unsuspecting support characters. Roño probably thought that if he cannot scare us anymore, might as well just try to make us laugh. He succeeds.

Anyone who has seen a Kris Aquino thriller knows how her acting almost always turns a horror scene into comedy gold, and this movie is no exception. But come on, we have been watching Kris chased by supernatural entities for more than a decade now, so we already know what to expect. Coco Martin is a bit of a letdown, though, because his acting here regressed to those days when he used to be the bad guy in soap operas. His shrill voice would not sit well with your eardrums, and his hysterics could be quite annoying.

It is actually Cherry Pie and Joonee who steal the scenes they are in, maybe because their characters seem to take themselves less seriously. If I were to be chased by a vengeful ghost from Mainland China, I’d definitely choose Lily as my sidekick. At least, I would be having a good time before I cross over to the afterlife. That treasure hunting scene at the garden is the highlight of this movie, simply because it underscores how absurd the story has become, given the potential of both the first act as well as the prequel. Do not be surprised if you see another Feng Shui movie in next year’s film festival. Maybe Bimby would be joining his Mom by then. The question is, would you still be watching?

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