FIFTY SHADES FREED (James Foley, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Fifty Shades Freed:

1. When Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson; were you expecting anyone else?) said something like “Look around! There’s nothing but boobs as far as the eyes can see. It’s Boobs in Boobsland!”, she could very well have been referring to her own movie. For a supposed chick flick, there was just way too many scenes of Dakota’s exposed breasts that I couldn’t help but silently scream “Utong na loob please!” or “Utong ina! Yan na naman!” every time they would make an appearance. I swear, this movie gave a whole new meaning to the word “buyangyang”. Scarred me for life, too.

2. Although this one wanted to be a sex-thriller with a subplot about a stalker (the smartest, slickest and most invincible fiction editor ever!) who was threatening their lives, I was more bothered that Anastasia was no longer using her brand new rose gold iPhone that she received as a sweet gift in the last movie. Her Macbook seemed to be missing as well. Geez, nagka-jowa lang ng mayaman nagwaldas na agad ng pera!

This was the same reason why I never really fell for her still-innocent facade here, like her faux bewilderment upon seeing the Grey private jet (“You own this?”). Oh please, drop the naive virgin act gurl! How could you still be surprised by how rich your new husband was when he basically bought your entire publishing company just because he wanted to? And let’s not forget that he crashed a personal helicopter as well in the last installment. Enough of this arte. You’re no Laida Magtalas!

3. If Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) was a billionaire, how could he not afford some decent bodyguards? The one person that he hired to protect his wife was so pathetic that basically everyone else was able to outsmart, outrun, and even outdrive him (to be fair, Anastasia could do a mean parallel park so…). Even worse, the Matt Bomer-lookalike actor that played him looked more Christian Grey than the actual Christian Grey. How sad.

Better security could have prevented the assault of Anastasia that left her in a coma (after just a mag-asawang sampal and a kick in her pregnant stomach, really??). Rita Ora should be thankful though since it gave her an additional (albeit still forgettable) scene that displayed her best acting work since last season’s America’s Next Top Model.

4. Why was he being such a big baby over her pregnancy? I could understand him disrupting a professional meeting just to complain about her not wanting to change her name on the work email, but I just didn’t get all the fuss about him being a total loon about the baby. No, let me correct that. He was jealous of the baby. His own baby. What happened to being a (kinky) Prince Charming?

5. Precision. Style. Comfort. The new Audi Quattro. And if the Fast & Furious style mini-commercials weren’t enough, they just had to include a scene where Anastasia toyed with Christian’s stick shift. At least I finally discovered his flaw when he blew his load during that car sex scene after a mere ten seconds of pumping (not gas, obviously).

6. Oh and those terrible sex scenes were a fitting end to this flaccid series! What happened to the perverse/deviant aspect? One involved a vibrator that resulted in… what’s the equivalent of blue balls? Blue clit? There was another one where he spread ice cream on her vajayjay and started to lick it off and I swear my tongue made a deep dive into my esophagus and I almost choked to death watching a silly S&M movie (how apt!).

At least this one further supported the basic fact that cheesy porn was meant to be enjoyed alone in the comfort of one’s own home where you wouldn’t hear the shocked person behind you mistaking a butt plug for a spoon (“Kutsara ba yan?). Ate, stay out of my kitchen!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

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MY FAIRY TAIL LOVE STORY (Perci Intalan, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on My Fairy Tail Love Story:

1. Never ever commit the mistake of making an analogy between Oscar-less Amy Adams and Grammy-less Katy Perry because I would surely hunt you down. It was this undying love for Adams that made me promise to watch Enchanted at least once every year. You know, that clever retelling of a fairy tale where she played a storybook Disney princess banished by her stepmother into the real world and searched for her ever ever after.

I think this movie wanted to be very much like Enchanted (aside from the obvious The Little Mermaid), but it failed to capture the magic of that film. Its idea of romantic love was having a character deliver the line, “With or without your tail, kahit amoy palengke ka pa, bottomline is mahal na mahal kita”. I guess it was meant to be sweet, but overall this mermaid out of water story felt very (insert Ariel’s voice here) what’s that word again… bilasa.

2. I actually thought the movie never recovered from the moment Chantel (Janella Salvador) cracked a joke during her birthday party, “My late mother would be proud of me. Oh, she’s not dead! She’s just late.” Nyek! And that was only ten minutes in.

The only source of fun I had was listening to every properly enunciated word coming out of her mouth (Tita Lea Salonga would be proud). It might be intentional (I’d like to say it was more fortuitous), but Janella sounded very much like a theater actress. If Atlantis Productions would ever stage The Little Mermaid again locally, I’m sure she would be great in the lead role.

3. Wait, if Chantel was a mermaid, why didn’t she have any problems living and breathing in a water-free environment? Instead of a bathtub, she spent her days on a bed. Or even jumping (!!) around from room to room (let me see you do that, Ariel!). Seriously, if I had scaly legs, I would always make sure they were properly moisturized.

4. I couldn’t get over the fact that Chantel immediately accepted that she grew a palikpik overnight, but fainted in the bathroom at the sight of Noah’s (Elmo Magalona), uhm, baby shark?

5. To be fair, the production design and the underwater photography looked really good. One of the very few clever bits here was when Chantel surfaced on the beach with a plastic bag on her head. Environmental awareness from a fantasy film? Not bad. Liked the theme song, too.

6. Speaking of fantasy film, you know you were watching one when spoiled rich kid Chantel looked giddy and excited upon seeing the racks of wonderful clothes that were available in… Robinson’s Department Store.

7. Burning questions:

• When Chantel broke into the highest falsetto and cracked her mirror, how did Noah’s designer glasses remain intact?

• Did Chantel readily own a pair of orange seashell bikini top to match her tail? (More importantly, how much do they cost in Robinson’s Department Store?)

• When Noah mentioned that being in a wheelchair was the latest fashion craze in New York, how dumb were those kids to believe him? And how many PWDs did he actually offend?

8. Chantel was head over heels in love with Ethan (Kiko Estrada) even if he had Keempee de Leon hair and dressed very much like a typical 50ish gay uncle who was on vacation from Saudi Arabia. Didn’t she smell anything fishy?

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

I, TONYA (Craig Gillespie, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on I, Tonya:

1. Very much like Tonya Harding, I had always used my asthma as an excuse to get out of any sport requiring physical contact (or just about any sport really). Maybe that was the reason why I never had any interest in basketball or baseball or soccer, not even volleyball. Although I watched a little bit of tennis, the events that made me switch channels from HBO to ESPN involved gymnastics (more artistic than rhythmic) and figure skating (ladies’ singles mostly).

There was just a certain level of excitement while waiting for these tumbling and spinning girls to properly stick their landing. For me, these two were the only things that made the quadrennial Olympics worth watching (plus diving, but for different reasons obviously).

2. My favorite figure skater of all time would have to be Michelle Kwan since she was able to perfectly merge the technical and artistic requirements of the sport (her signature spirals were to die for!). I also loved her personality and would never forget her inspirational line when she ended up second in Nagano (“I didn’t lose the gold. I won the silver!”).

My other favorite would be Surya Bonaly, the infamous bad girl of skating who would always raise a middle finger to the judges with her illegal, signature backflip. Will & Grace actually had an episode devoted to her and it was one of the funniest in the series.

3. Which brings me to the villains of figure skating, the women that I really hated and secretly wished that they would land on their butts after their salchows and axels. One would be Tara Lipinski, who never did anything bad really except that I found her incredibly annoying. The other would be convicted felon Harding, who was definitely involved in the kneecapping of close competitor Nancy Kerrigan.

4. I still remember that incident like it was yesterday, the images of a wailing Nancy breaking my heart into pieces. So I was really surprised when that exact same scene was recreated here and my reaction was… a giggle. I knew that I was going straight to hell because of that, but it was just too hard not to let out a guilty reaction when it was played for laughs and it was detestably, weirdly funny.

Maybe that was the entire point of this “irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true” story. It wanted to change the perception that Harding wasn’t just the spoiled diva that whined about her loose skates in Lillehammer, that she was also a victim of circumstances and had no involvement in the crime. I never believed any second of this film, but it successfully made me cry. And laugh. A lot. And full of guilt.

5. Most of its success relied on the phenomenal, career-defining performance of Margot Robbie. She looked nowhere near the real Harding (and reminded me more of Jamie Pressly), but she made the character more understandable. You could see her motives and weaknesses and how some of her faulty choices were due to an overbearing mother and a troubled marriage (that included domestic violence). It was very much like watching Black Swan on ice, except that only the star’s career died in the end.

This woman blamed everything from puberty to her faulty laces for all the disappointments in her life, and yet I still felt an ounce of sympathy for her. Again, a pure testament to Robbie’s acting. Her courtroom scene alone when she learned the verdict that she was banned from skating again was simply heartbreaking (“I’d rather do the jail time!”). Feeling bad for a criminal? A testament to the power of this film.

6. “Behind every successful woman is a pushy mother” had never been more true. As Harding’s mother, Allison Janney was vicious, despicable, and relatable to any Asian kid that had a Tiger mom. I was thankful that I didn’t have to pee in my pants because my mother didn’t allow any bathroom breaks during my karate lessons and I never had a knife thrown at me for talking back at her, but I knew exactly where LaVona Golden was coming from (her line of “Oh please! Show me a family that doesn’t have their ups and downs” after that knife scene was a killer.) She even actually complained directly at the camera (so many breaking the fourth wall moments here!) with “Well, my storyline is disappearing. What the fuck?!”. How could you completely hate her (bird on shoulder and all)?

7. Whenever Harding would compare herself to some of the most popular people (“I was the second most known person in the world next to Bill Clinton!”, “I was the Charles Barkley of figure skating!”), I was reminded of the same delusions of grandeur displayed by Nicole Kidman as Suzanne Stone in the equally wicked To Die For. (Go watch!!)

8. I really liked how this was so loving and brutal at the sport as well. One judge said something like this to Harding, “It’s never been entirely about skating. You’re not the image we want to represent” and I realized how unfair the scores could be to these athletes. Judged for your personality and not just your performance? They never had this problem in basketball.

Rating: ★★★★★

SIN ISLAND (Gino Santos, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Sin Island:

1. Think of the worst adjectives that could apply in any romance-suspense-thriller and it would be the perfect description for this ridiculous, trashy (basura kung basura!), mindless, basic movie that had the technical polish of a same-day edit wedding video. I spent the entire time figuring out if the campy humor was intentional or not (if it were, I wish it went all out and crossed over to Joey Gosengfiao territory).

Where else would you hear a character say the line, “Exclusive ang kaputahan ko. I only give my puta self to the one I love”? The ending even blatantly ripped off (read: garapalan) the last few scenes of Fatal Attraction. Needless to say, I enjoyed every torturous minute of it.

This was probably my favorite guilty pleasure since Jaclyn Jose delivered the atrocious “Kaya kabit ang tawag sa kanila kasi daig pa nila ang epoxy kung kumabit. Kaya kerida kasi mga kiri. Kaya mistress kasi nakaka-stress!” in Nuel Naval’s A Secret Affair.

2. I still hadn’t gotten over the British Madonna accent of Xian Lim in Paddington 2 so it was only apt that this one started with an overly-modulated voiceover of his character David reminiscing the fun times he had with his wife Kanika (Coleen Garcia). The moment he said, “I can still remember the first time we met…”, I immediately brought out two valid IDs and my initial cash deposit to open my very first BDO savings account.

(Side note: During the family dinner, David’s dad said something like “We were worried about this one” referring to the fear of his son never getting married and for a second there I really thought that he was going to joke about David’s sexuality. Insert side eye emoji here.)

3. May galit ba ang Star Cinema sa flight attendants? Why were they usually portrayed as horny unprofessionals fawning over their senior hunky pilots (see also Just the 3 of Us)? I’d be really scared with all the raging hormones onboard that flight.

In one scene, Kanika gave this lame excuse for taking good care of sick DILF pilot Stephen (TJ Trinidad), “Syempre kelangan ko kayo alagaan kasi kung di kayo gumaling, sino maghahatid sa amin sa Pilipinas?” (Anak ng tokwa isa lang ata ang piloto sa airline nila!)

4. To be fair, she seemed to be aroused by everything around her. She was the type of woman that had no qualms undressing and dry humping her husband in the hallway just outside the room where his entire family was having dinner. She also had these constant bouts of wet dreams that looked straight out of a Cinemax After Dark special. I started to wonder if she actually had an allergy to any type of clothing. Kanika? More like Katika.

(Another side note: Coleen always had memorable names in these Star Cinema films. She played a horny (what else?) med rep named Arkisha in Ex with Benefits. We might need to start coming up with cool names for her next role as, say, a horny mountain climber? Suggestions please!!)

5. One dinner scene with friends was reminiscent of The Entire History of You episode in Black Mirror that I expected David’s eyes to start glazing over. Of course it was done Pinoy-style, so Stephen had to say the line, “I love cheat days. Kahit ano pwede mo kainin” before slurping on a piece of tahong. For a moment there, I thought that he would actually swallow it whole, tahong clit and all.

6. “Welcome to Sin Island! Short for Sinilaban!!” Bwahahahaha! Gusto ko rin silaban ang buong sinehan, but I was having too much fun already.

7. The best part of the movie was Nathalie Hart (formerly Princess Snell of Starstruck), who would have given Rosanna Roces a run for her ST star crown in the 90s. Her limited acting range as crazy Tasha was perfectly suited to the genre and she just delivered a playful, go-for-broke, balakayojan performance. Her first scene alone where she was doing nude yoga along the beach was a killer. David created a ruckus that disrupted her zen moment and her facial reaction was a cross between “Watdapak!” and “Shet, may kasama utot ko!”.

I knew I was watching an effective kontrabida because the Titas of Batangas behind me were audibly wishing for her demise (“Ayan na naman ang impakta! Bakit di pa yan mamatay?”). Their blood pressures definitely went through the roof when Tasha came out of David’s bathroom and wiggled her underwear in front of Kanika while saying “Sorry naglakad kasi dito ang panty ko eh”. A chorus of “Impakta talaga ‘to! Impaktaaaa!” filled the entire cinema. I wasn’t surprised that when Kanika dragged Tasha by the hair while inside a moving car, everyone in the cinema cheered to their hearts’ delight.

(Yet another side note: These Titas of Batangas spent the entire time arguing that the actress playing Tasha was Sarah Lahbati.)

8. Of course there was a legal wife-kabit confrontation, but this one involved a staredown set inside a steaming sauna (walang metaphor na di inurungan! symbolism in yo face!). If it weren’t obvious enough, another girl entered the room then jumped out screaming “Aray! Bakit sobrang init naman dito?”. Kanika and Tasha also took turns in saying “If you can’t handle the heat, then stay out of the kitchen”. Wait lang, bakit kitchen pa rin??

9. The sex scenes here were as unerotic as the ones in Fifty Shades Freed. Fogged up shower sex again? A jazzed up version of Isang Linggong Pag-ibig playing in the background? Maple syrup licked off Xian’s chest? Eww.

10. Speaking of Xian’s chest, does anyone know what cream he uses to maintain the pinkish glow of his nipples? Asking for a friend.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

BEYOND THE MARK (Mark Bautista, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

When news came out that Mark Bautista would finally address the rumours surrounding his sexuality in a juicy tell-all memoir, I had mixed feelings that included: 1) coming out is now a cash cow? (nakakahiya naman kay Matt Bomer), 2) wow, that’s really brave of him (although admittedly, he’s no longer at the peak of his career), 3) which other celebrities will he name-drop? (aside from the obvious ones, hello Fafa!), and 4) I hope it wouldn’t just be one big black book of secrets.

Fortunately, there was more to it other than the controversial chapter(s) reserved until the latter part of the book (and even more content relative to the recent crop of local celebrity bios). It was interesting to read his anecdotes about growing up as a confused kid and his struggles before becoming a successful artist (I especially liked his touching story about winning Php500 on a radio trivia contest and the instant ramen shopping spree that he and his family made with the cash prize huhu!). There was obviously more to him other than his sexuality so it was a bit jarring when it suddenly turned into a salacious confessional that wouldn’t seem out of place on the pages of Fashion Pulis.

The book felt a bit rushed (too many typos including a couple of references to “A Night for a Star”) and needed a bit more polish (after discussing his win in that contest, it jumped a full decade into his London career; plus too many mundane, rambling details like the diss on East Avenue General Hospital). The supposedly revelatory chapters didn’t really go into too much detail (except for the Friendshift one that would only come as a surprise if you never watched The Buzz). I also found it a bit odd that he had pictures of him in various states of undress between chapters even while discussing serious topics like, say, his newfound Christianity.

Overall though, it was still an honest and refreshing read about a local celebrity that just wanted to be open and free and ultimately accepted and loved unconditionally. So who’s next?

Rating: ★★★☆☆

MEET ME IN ST. GALLEN (Irene Villamor, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Meet Me in St. Gallen:

1. It might be my limited knowledge of films (or my utter love for the series), but every time I’d see a romantic movie where the two leads just talk for hours, I immediately think of the classic Before Trilogy. It set such a high standard that anything else that remotely came close to its structure/style would (unfairly) end up as a mere copycat in my book.

This movie felt very much like a condensed version of the trilogy, except that the rambling discussions were less philosophical and more hugot-based (“Hindi ako painting na mailalagay mo sa pader”). Which would have been forgivable if it just wasn’t so… boring.

(Also, I thought that Raffy and Gela of Mr. and Mrs. Cruz would end up as this year’s most talkative characters, but I was obviously wrong.)

2. The meet cute was actually fine and it was interesting to watch the interactions between the spunky Celeste (Bela Padilla) and the more subdued Jesse (Carlo Aquino). Although it initially had that creepy stalker feel of Kita Kita with him bumping into her outside of a public restroom (where all great love stories start) and then began following her everywhere, she immediately confronted him (“Nagagandahan ka ba sa akin kaya mo ako sinusundan?”) and thankfully put a stop to this emerging love story trope that should never be romanticized.

I also wondered if Celeste would have entertained Jesse in the coffee shop if he looked like, say, Empoy Marquez so I felt amused when she was obviously one step ahead of the audience and said, “Kung di ka gwapo, di kita papaupuin dyan.”

(And totoo, sobrang gwapo lang ni Carlo dito that it made me forget he used to be part of the kiddie boyband JCS with John Prats and Stefano Mori. Wait, I meant sobrang galing. Galing, galing, galing!!)

3. I should actually hate Celeste because a) she spoiled the ending of Celeste and Jesse Forever, b) she had the gall to brag about her eight hundred friends on Facebook, c) she complained about being a misunderstood graphic artist yet made a basic layout that seemed to be a product of WordArt, d) one of her art works consisted of a pole with several hanging labada, and e) since she was an ahrt-ist, her dining table was decorated with scattered jigsaw puzzle pieces, but Bela’s such a good actress that I lapped up everything that she said and did.

4. I should actually hate Jesse because a) he asked if Celeste and Jesse Forever had a happy ending (and then complained about the spoiler, huh?), b) he sounded like a second-rate Abra that talked like Boy Abunda (“Kapag ako lang mag-isa, gusto kong isulat ang tungkol sa mga ibinubulong ko sa langit”), c) he broke several laws by answering his phone while drunk driving, and d) he cheated on Angelica Panganiban (well, not the real one, rather his fiancée in the picture), but Carlo’s such a good actor… wait, I already covered that.

5. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without a videoke session. Now if only I hadn’t recently heard and associated You Are My Sunshine with Annabelle: Creation…

6. I really couldn’t understand why Celeste would suddenly walk out of a romantic moment (“Sobrang perfect naman ng moment na ‘to. Wag natin sirain”) and then sleep with an obviously engaged Jesse four years later. Was it supposed to signal her transition from idealist to realist? Did absence make her heart grow fonder? What happened to emotional maturity?

(Side note: This was obviously a woman’s fantasy because the couple actually had an incredibly long talk in bed after having sex. And the next day, Celeste had an I-woke-up-like-this look with perfect eyebrows.)

7. All of those snowy Switzerland scenes looked really lovely. I wish I could say that I’d love to tick that off my bucket list, but definitely not after my nose almost fell off in Japan last month (and it wasn’t even below zero there).

8. Sobrang pahabol si Celeste. It took several minutes (and blocks) of endless walking and talking before she actually revealed that she already had a boyfriend. Ganda mo girl! Ginawan na ng tula ni Fidel, ngayon naman kanta ni Jesse pero basted pareho. I honestly couldn’t wait for the 100 Kanta ni Bela song hits.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (Michael Gracey, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Greatest Showman:

1. It had been over a year already and I still couldn’t forget the fabulous opening sequence of La La Land. Another Day of Sun fully encapsulated the reason why I really love musicals. I’d always imagine myself stuck along EDSA during Friday night rush hour traffic and I would get out of my car and burst into song while commuters inside cars and buses would sing a chorus and dance along with me. Why would there be any road rage when I could simply belt out my six octave range (bye Mariah!) and shimmy with the takatak boys? Our lives as a series of music videos would definitely be one sweet sweet fantasy, right?

2. As a musical, Showman was an enjoyable treat with its dazzling set pieces, spectacular choreography (that rooftop dance sequence with the dancing kumots!), and soaring sugar pop melodies. My favorite number was Rewrite the Stars with Zac Efron and Zendaya flying through the air on ropes, making it the most dangerous flirtation since I joined (and ultimately deleted) Tinder five years ago.

I also really liked the powerhouse performance of Rebecca Ferguson in Never Enough, until 1) I discovered that it really wasn’t her singing (it was actually dubbed by The Voice contestant Loren Allred), and 2) I realized immediately after that she was pining for a married man. In a culture fascinated with kabit movies where viewers enjoy seeing these women get their comeuppance, I wonder how many Pinoys actually loved this (in context) mistress song.

3. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables (a singing Russell Crowe scarred me for life), but amidst the distractingly tight close-ups was an undeniably terrific performance by Hugh Jackman. He delivered again here as P.T. Barnum, serving as a ringleader to his troop of circus oddities and trying to stay true on the promise of being the greatest showman.

I actually liked him better in this movie because he was just more effective as a performer than a singer (check his Tony Awards hosting work on YouTube!). I also had a good laugh when the young Barnum got caught stealing a loaf of bread, the very reason why Jean Valjean turned into prisoner 24601.

4. I wish there was more of a story here to latch on to. Sure, I bawled my eyes out during the A Million Dreams song and also when the family moved into their mansion and one of the daughters received her ballet slippers, but everything else just felt very basic.

Did we really need two langit-lupa love stories when we didn’t even know much about the circus members (I couldn’t even recall any of their names!)? Even American Horror Story: Freak Show was able to bring life to its characters (sorry, but Kathy Bates would always be the Bearded Lady to me) and went beyond the “They’re humans, too!” message. When the group belted out the supposedly cathartic This Is Me song, it felt more like a production number on Glee rather than a poignant anthem about celebrating diversity.

Wait, did I just sound very much like a “theater critic who can’t find joy in a theater”?

5. I also felt a bit sad that the movie just glossed on some seemingly important topics, especially the one regarding exploitation. I wish we had more insights to this so-called celebration of humanity where people with disabilities weren’t treated any differently from animals in a zoo.

As a kid, I remembered going to a local perya and paying Php20 to watch a Lalaking Alimango (billed as a half-human, half-crab, but in reality was a man with underdeveloped arms and limbs and had pincer-like growths instead of fingers). I cried out of fear and also out of pity because they made him swim in this tub of dirty water.

I guess the idea of tackling freaks as entertainment was just too heavy for this movie that only aimed to be a feel-good one, ending with Jackman joyously riding an elephant in the city to meet his loving family. And after that, all was right with the world.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

WINCHESTER (Michael & Peter Spierig, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Winchester:

1. Popularly known as “the house that spirits built”, the Winchester mansion in California looked every bit the oddity that you would expect from its ghost architects. With seven storeys and over a hundred rooms, it was meant to both please and distract the entities haunting that place. There were secret rooms, doors that led to nowhere, early intercoms that utilized pipes, thirteen (supposedly a lucky number) items in every room, and weird staircases meant to assist the house owner Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren) who was suffering from arthritis.

It was an ongoing construction for over forty years that only ceased upon Mrs. Winchester’s death. Now open for public viewing as a popular tourist spot, I would certainly want to visit the place and squeeze my brain out wondering how much staff and how long it took to actually clean the entire house. I might even bring my own bottle of Lysol.

2. Even with such an interesting history, the movie itself failed to capture the mystery surrounding the house and its occupants. It relied on the usual scare techniques that would only work on people that had never actually seen a horror film. Reflections of ghosts in a mirror, a character looking under the bed to check creaking noises, demons that peek in keyholes and in between door spaces, tired tired tired. One character mentioned that “fear is all in the mind”, but no matter how much I opened myself up to getting scared silly, it just never worked.

3. The great Mirren was the only reason why I even bothered with this. Caligula aside, I don’t think I had ever seen her in a horror movie. The closest would have to be the execrable Teaching Mrs. Tingle, which was still surprisingly much better than this one.

I seriously wish she was paid handsomely for this project because it seemed like the budget for the script was given to her instead. At least it was fun seeing her look like she was ready for Halloween 2018 as wedding belle Ivy Aguas.

4. Every time I hear “laudanum”, it would always be in the voice of Kirsten Dunst as Claudia in Interview with the Vampire, coyly telling Lestat that it “keeps the blood warm”. Hey, now that was a great horror movie! Time to revisit.

5. Oh, this also served as a propaganda flick against gun violence. One character actually mentioned that guns were evil because they were instruments of death. I found it really odd then that the ghost (no, not Charlton Heston) sought revenge by using a rifle. In turn, he was vanquished back to the afterlife after getting shot. So anti-gun laws or what?

6. Wait, was the falling nail during the final scene audaciously even hinting at a possible sequel? Que horror!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆