Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Eerie

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

1995. Gifted with clairvoyance, Pat (Bea Alonzo) intentionally stays late at the school grounds to talk to the ghost of a girl named Eri, who is rumored to have hung herself in the last cubicle of the girls’ comfort room on the third floor. Since then, the Sta. Lucia Academy for Girls has become a venue for suicides and homicides. Sor Alice (Charo Santos-Concio), the principal, believes that prayer is the best way to combat such disgrace. Pat begs to disagree. Serving as the school’s guidance counselor, she believes that the cause is linked to the supernatural but can be resolved through proper investigation in the realm of the living. She teams up with private investigator Julian (Jake Cuenca) but she will soon discover that there exist certain forces that can’t easily be tamed and are better left alone.

This movie feels like Mikhail Red’s tribute to the glory days of Asian horror cinema back in the mid-2000’s. Remember the influx of Korean and Thai genre films back then and how effective they were in creeping the hell out of you? Demure girls in all white with their long bangs almost covering their faces? Predictable yet well-executed mirror shots? Decrepit buildings with dimly-lit halls? Shrill sound effects as vital accompaniment for jump scares? Everything looks familiar, yet Red makes it work.

Darkness is prevalent. Even the few scenes with daylight have a certain muted quality, an almost grayish tone that establishes a rather somber atmosphere all throughout. They also play around with space, framing certain scenes with enough leeway behind the characters as if giving allowance for something sudden to happen. As for make-up, what you get is your traditional ghost with a pale and deformed face, most of the time twisted.

Both Pat and Sor Alice have an air of vagueness to them as if telling you that neither one of them is a reliable narrator. As the story progresses you get but a glimpse of certain episodes of their lives that raise suspicions. The good thing about Eerie is that it does not cross over to the other side of the thin line dividing the horror and fantasy genres. It remains a legit horror flick by virtue of its storyline. You jump scared. You ask questions. Mission accomplished.

Eerie marks Alonzo’s third consecutive film for Star Cinema in the last 12 months or so. Somewhere in a boardroom meeting someone must have suggested that maybe it’s time to scare her instead of making her cry buckets of tears this time around. She does cry in this movie, but it’s good to see her terrified for a change. She seldom disappoints, which probably explains why she has been Star Cinema’s go-to actress all this time. Maybe she can do action or comedy next?

The narrative is crafted based on your traditional horror formula. Even though red herrings abound, what you get is a conventional horror flick with a twist that leaves you asking questions that will never be answered. It’s not open-ended, but it does leave you hanging like that, stimulating a conversation that could start off as mere plot confusion yet ends up leading you to important issues that are timely, relevant, and thus should be discussed.

For a film that is meant to be nothing more than entertainment, Eerie actually touches on several topics that are ripe for discussion. Suicide. Domestic abuse. Bullying. Even the ending and the twist serve as a strong statement that someone should always listen. Perhaps that’s what makes this a great watch. It entertains but it also educates in a subtle way that doesn’t come off as too preachy. One might even go as far as to interpret the spirits as a metaphor for the social taboos we dare not deal with or even speak of.

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