Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Kampon

♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Married couple Clark (Derek Ramsay) and Eileen (Beauty Gonzales) would love to have kids and are constantly bombarded with questions as to when they will finally have one. The problem is his impotence. While they have already consulted various doctors at her behest, even the wonders of modern medicine just couldn’t help them. And so imagine her surprise when one rainy night they find a little girl named Jade (Erin Espiritu) at their doorstep who inexplicably bypasses the fortress-like defenses of their home to introduce herself as his daughter. Not only is Jade creepy, she also has some cryptic messages at hand, talking about how her mother Loreta (Zeinab Harake) could not “come back” and, thus, necessitates Clark’s help, even though she could not verbalize how. The plot thickens when the paternity test turns out positive and the couple are now forced to keep the kid. Soon enough, zombie-like individuals start haunting them inside and outside their house.

Kampon is that kind of movie that willingly invites you to ask as many questions as you can because it has no intention of answering them. While we have complained that some films at this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival are spoon feeding their audience by spelling everything out as if they were idiots, Kampon is on the opposite side of the spectrum assuming that moviegoers would want to decipher whatever the hell it is trying to tell them. That works if your storytelling is exciting and the audience gives enough of a damn to care. Unfortunately, those elements are missing, so this movie feels like a total waste of your one hour and thirty minutes.

I still want explanations, though, and in yearning for them, I tried piecing the puzzle together. The opening scene is that of Loreta being rushed to a quack doctor because she is dying. She dies anyway after the old hag tries some Catholic voodoo on her. And so she turns to demonic inspirations instead and the woman gets revived, but not before she levitates into the air a la Exorcist and gains an instant demonic-themed tattoo on her abs. The next time we see her is after the jeepney crash where she gets beheaded but what is left of her torso is still breathing.

She already has that tattoo when she slept with Clark, which happened before the vehicular accident, obviously. So my assumption is that whichever demon that old hag summoned was reincarnated as Loreta’s daughter Jade, which I suppose explains why she can revive the dead but with zombie-like tendencies (kampon = henchmen), make people’s heads explode, and levitate at will. We can also speculate that Clark is really impotent but what happened was an “immaculate conception” of sorts. Wow, this is a stretch, a tedious fill-in-the-blanks exercise that no ordinary moviegoer would voluntarily subject himself to.

That still leaves some questions. Like, what the fvck is that creature Clark found in the container van while he was still part of the police force? That creature killed his entire team and left him with PTSD. Jade wouldn’t have been born yet by that time because Clark claims he slept with Loreta when he closed his first contract AFTER he left the police force. This makes the story even more confusing, especially because it isn’t made clear whether this is all supernatural and demonic or we are just dealing with freaks of nature here.

As far as acting is concerned, Ramsay and Gonzales bring their A-game and it shows that they committed to their roles. The kid manages to command several facial muscles to look creepy, but the character does not really give her much to work with aside from being a wannabe demon child, which has already been done before a lot of times both in Hollywood and in the local film industry. In any case, it doesn’t matter what performative acting gymnastics they do here, because that kind of plot execution and lousy storytelling would need divine intervention to not be one heck of a bore.

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