Saturday, August 3, 2019

Tabon

♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Ian (Christopher Roxas) receives a call from the town chief giving him the sad news of his father’s (Menggie Cobarrubias) passing. The two were never really close and he was sent away to live in Manila as a kid for reasons until now he isn’t aware of. His wife, Erika (Ynna Asistio), thinks he should go back to find answers and also to seek some sort of closure for his past. Together with his adoptive daughter, the family travels back to the small town and is welcomed by Aling Tessie (Dexter Doria) to the family home. The next day, he is taken to the police station to confront three of the suspects to his father’s murder who all claim that his death was a suicide and that they have no motives to kill a man who had helped them so much in their lives. Soon, Ian will discover that there is a bigger reason for his return.

WHY, XIAN LIM, WHY??? This is only my second year of attending Cinemalaya but it seems clear to me that there is that one movie yearly that appears to be included as some kind of cruel joke or something. Last year that “honor” went to The Lookout. This year, that film seems to be Tabon. I should have walked out after the second interrogation scene. Overall, it’s not the best film to open your 2019 Cinemalaya experience.

The lines are repetitive. The dialogue and the plot just go around in circles. It took around an hour for the plot to move forward, with most of the characters literally promising answers that for some reason they just wouldn’t give. It’s dragging like that, and it would have been worthwhile had this been a legit thriller, but all it has to offer is a jump scare or two which are unfortunately not enough to keep anyone interested. Even the twists are just there for the sake of having them and don’t really compute.

The veterans make do of what they are given but also end up getting bogged down by the problematic screenplay. The overbearing score begs you to either care or get scared, but accomplishes neither. The second interrogation scene is littered with special effects that seem to be lifted straight from Powerpoint. The psychedelic effect of mushrooms can be rendered onscreen convincingly without having to totally disconnect from the overall feel of the material, you know.

To make matters worse, there was an audible argument coming from the projection room. They seem to be pointing fingers on who to blame. Halfway through, the film jumped here and there and the font size of the subtitles changed. It seems like it hasn’t finished post-production, or perhaps that was just a technical glitch? In any case it gives you the impression of a half-baked project that casts a shadow of doubt on the criteria of the selection committee. Not to discourage the writer and the director, but there is definitely a lot of room for improvement here.

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