ANG MANANANGGAL SA UNIT 23B (Prime Cruz, 2016)



Ooh, Wong Kar-wai aesthetics set to a hipster soundtrack! Most visually-pleasing (that labia majora wings reveal was awesome!) among the three Prime Cruz films, but also my least favorite.

There wasn’t enough story to latch on to that I kept wondering if the chicken oil (?) she used to rub on her burning loins was stolen from Mang Inasal. I’m all for an interspecies love story so it was unfortunate that the movie ended just when it was actually getting better.

Rating: ‪★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 20, 2017.)


SALVAGE (Sherad Anthony Sanchez, 2015)



Although admirable for its unapologetic commitment to craziness and its interesting take on some Pinoy mythologies, the film as a whole just didn’t work for me.

Jessy Mendiola registered well onscreen, but the role needed an actress with a bit more depth (and an actual scream queen). I had more fun watching the Barbie character (now she was a real shrieker).

Also, this fell victim to the basic pitfalls of the found footage genre (characters running for their dear lives, yet continuously filming for documentation purposes). Seriously, if an aswang was running after me, posting a potential viral video would be the least of my priorities.

Pa-explain ng ending ples.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 19, 2017.)

THE MEG (Jon Turteltaub, 2018)



A heartbreaking tale of an endangered prehistoric fish living a peaceful existence with its aquatic neighbors in the Marianas Trench when a group of greedy, idiotic humans decided to violate its home and capture it for selfish reasons.

In one beautiful scene, a horde of swimmers in multi-colored salbabidas looked like floating Froot Loops waiting to be eaten by a very hungry shark. I was rooting for the predator, of course.

I wish the film went all out in its silliness (given the number of people that kept falling off boats) and portrayed the characters here as the cruel beings they really were instead of making them self-sacrificial heroes. It just wasn’t in their nature.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 19, 2018.)

THE DAY AFTER VALENTINE’S (Jason Paul Laxamana, 2018)



I can come up with ten things that I didn’t like about this movie, but I’m sure you’ll still watch this Hawaii travelogue narrated by damaged souls because of Bela Padilla and JC Santos (both much better in 100 Tula Para Kay Stella).

If I learned anything from Bela’s bangs, it was that I did the right thing in not trusting those DIY haircut tutorials on YouTube.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 16, 2018.)

WE WILL NOT DIE TONIGHT (Richard Somes, 2018)



Like a nastier, low-budget version of Buy Bust. I probably would have liked the senseless bloodbath more if the action scenes were at least staged/shot much better and didn’t look like mere rehearsals.

The scene where Erich Gonzales singlehandedly eviscerated several goons closely resembled the stairwell sequence of Atomic Blonde. Another one where she grabbed a young girl reminded me so much of The Lookout. Definitely not a good sign.

So after getting beaten close to death, her stuntwoman character still showed up on the film set despite everything that happened? Now that’s dedication! (And a brutal reality for our stuntpeople.)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 16, 2018.)

PINAY BEAUTY (SHE’S NO WHITE) (Jay Abello, 2018)



More corny than funny. Sample joke: a burglar broke into a home and accidentally smashed a vase. Old man to burglar: “300 years old na yang vase na yan ah!!”. Burglar to old man: “Hay salamat! Akala ko bago.” Wenk, wenk, wenk!

Although we’re admittedly racist in nature, I still cringed a bit when characters found humor in lines like “Anong akala mo sa Pilipina? Lahat itsurang ita?” or “Majitim, majitim. Black parang si Barack!”. Or was the movie actually telling us not to laugh? I was confused.

It was great to see the uber talented Chai Fonacier lead a movie (especially one that championed morena beauty), but she deserved so much better. Her faux Pak’s Brownening Soap ad said so much more about our mestisa obsession in 30 seconds than this one did in 1.5 hours.

At least it was hilarious to watch Maxine Medina play a beautiful-looking but terrible actress. I’m almost sure that wasn’t much of a stretch.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published August 15, 2018.)