Sunday, December 28, 2014

Shake, Rattle & Roll XV


AHAS: One of the fitting rooms at Alegria Mall doubles as an elevator leading unwary victims to the lair of a snake monster, whose existence has fed persistent rumors for years. Sandra (Erich Gonzales), the daughter of the mall mogul, denies the existence of an evil twin, and even laughs off many a hearsay that she herself is the snake. But her twin sister Sarah (Erich Gonzales) does not agree. Life under the mall is lonely, and now more than ever she wants the world to know of her existence so she can profess her crush on Troy (JC de Vera), whose wife she devoured for dinner a few years back.

Gonzales gives the role her best shot but her every attempt is sabotaged by the crappy CGI. Good graphics is essential to the success of storylines like this; anything subpar would result in a half-baked product that is simply cringe worthy. As for the story, no youngster in the 90's would not know the urban legend of the giant snake supposedly lurking in the basement of a once popular mall chain. This episode capitalizes on that but adds nothing substantial to the myth. It is because of this that the episode seems lacking, like they could have done something more but chose to rush production instead. Alice Dixson, one of the alleged victims of the "real life" snake makes a cameo appearance.

ULAM: Amy (Carla Abellana) and Henry (Dennis Trillo) move into his ancestral home for cost-cutting purposes. They are welcomed with open arms by the family maid Aling Lina (Chanda Romero) who has been part of the household since his grandparents were alive. Not only is she an amazing cook, her cuisine also comes with freebies. Aside from food poisoning, her cooking also gives both husband and wife delusions: he has visions of himself growing excess hair, while she wakes up in the middle of the night scratching imaginary scales covering her skin. Whatever special ingredient they are ingesting makes them worse day by day, until the life of their very own daughter is put in danger.

Abellana would have had a good chance at the best actress trophy had the episode been longer. Unfortunately, the short screen time does not do her any favors. This episode is obviously the best of the three in terms of acting, from Trillo and Romero all the way down to the kid. Whoever Jerrold Tarog is, he should keep on directing horror movies because he is really good at it. Many scenes resemble moving photography; the director is skilled in producing picturesque shots, and has a unique way of shooting scenes with either the actors' backs or silhouettes beautifully. He also plays with the lighting, obscuring the characters' faces from time to time as if reflecting the struggle they have with their inner demons.

FLIGHT 666: Dave (Matteo Guidicelli) gets bumped off his flight and is transferred to Manila Air flight 666, where his ex-girlfriend Karen (Lovi Poe) works as a flight attendant. True to its flight code, the aircraft proves to be a doomed one as a hijacker threatens to blow everyone up with a bomb. With the pilot eventually incapacitated, the plane would also be crashing soon. Did we mention that one of the passengers gives birth to a Tiyanak? How are they to land i one piece with all the odds pitted against them?

Really? Whoever came up with this episode probably thought it would be funny to overload it with every possible misfortune a plane passenger could encounter. They could have made a good crossover with the first episode if they decided to go as far as ripping off Snakes on a Plane. Whoever is managing the airline must have been sacked immediately, commissioning an A330 for a 90-minute flight with less done a dozen passengers. Everyone seems cool with the idea, though, with the characters themselves making snide remarks on the absurdity of their dilemma. It is a fun ride indeed because of that, but that does not mean that the mediocrity of the production would be enough to satisfy you.

There is no denying that the franchise is getting better every year, but the sad thing is how they still have to include episodes which rely too much on bad CGI or cheap scare tactics. The producers should depend more on episodes such as Ulam; simple in execution yet able to leave an impact and craftily done. More polished special effects would help a lot for episodes like Ahas, while they could totally do without episodes like Flight 666. By the way, perhaps Iggy (John Lapus) deserves a special mention, being the only character who appears in all three episodes and miraculously survives. While he is known for over the top acting, Lapus' performance here somehow matched the overall tone for each episode.

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