THE NUN (Corin Hardy, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on The Nun:

1. Long before Kidzania, Sky Ranch, Enchanted Kingdom, Star City, Boom na Boom, Glico’s, Payanig sa Pasig and Big Bang sa Alabang, the certified 80’s kids had that glorious haven located in the heart of Cubao called Fiesta Carnival. It was an indoor amusement park filled with the coolest rides and the best perya games ever created.

My favorite attraction there was this dingy horror ride (the predecessor of the corny horror train) where you would sit in a tiny cart that would pass through this long, dark tunnel split into several rooms (your cart would enter them by bumping onto the sliding doors) and each room was filled with every kind of supernatural entity designed to scare the crap out of you. One area would have like a ghost suddenly flying above your head while another would have a vampire jumping out of his coffin.

It felt very much like a nightmare that wouldn’t stop until you literally puked your kiddie guts out from all the screaming. That experience would probably be the closest equivalent I could think of for this movie that was relentlessly packed with jump scares. The only difference though was that I was no longer six years old.

2. In the Conjuring Universe, this would probably fall right smack in the middle with the best being the first Conjuring film and the worst being the first Annabelle. As a huge horror fan, I’d usually hate the ones that would sacrifice a good story over some cheap scares, but this one proved to be an exception (yes, I enjoyed it more than I probably should have).

Maybe it was because it didn’t take itself seriously (it definitely failed as an origin story because it didn’t really tell much about Valak aka Sister Marilyn Manson) and just took on the full silliness of its premise by upping the scream quotient (regardless of how effective they were).

3. With all the hilarious moments here through Frenchie-Canadian (Jonas Bloquet), I wasn’t even sure if it was trying to be a parody of the past movies (or even the genre). I mean, that scene where he pulled an oversized cross from a grave and ran with it all the way to a local bar was definitely a joke (and a really funny one, too).

Plus, you could probably name every cliché in the horror rule book and it was included here (except for a cat jumping out of the shadows, unless I missed that one). When one nun fell face down on the floor, everybody knew that somebody would grab her legs and pull her away from the camera. That corpse covered with a white sheet? It would come alive screaming, of course. And the scene where a nun suddenly dropped from a tree while hanging from a noose? It was done far better by Ynez Veneracion with her crazy eyes in Chito Roño’s The Healing. But all of these generated a symphony of screams (with some people literally jumping out of their seats) in our almost sold-out screening that made me enjoy the viewing experience even more.

4. When that horse-drawn carriage suddenly pulled up outside that monastery, I half-expected Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker to come out and seduce Valak with his tasty blood. I didn’t even care much about the supposedly creepy atmosphere of the broken-down monastery and smoky graveyard, I still found olden Romania incredibly romantic. Now what does that say about me?

5. Did Father Burke (Demián Bichir) provide an answer to his question on the opposite of miracle? This had been bugging me for days and Google was no help. Also, his character didn’t really figure much in the overall story, but at least he was able to deliver lines like “There is a time for prayer and a time for action”. Ooh, very Balweg, the Rebel Priest!

6. Glad that they actually made the effort to tie this up with the earlier films, although I was a bit disappointed that Sister Irene (an effective Taissa Farmiga) did not have any relation to Lorraine Warren (my darling Vera Farmiga) even if they obviously looked exactly alike. I would just assume that she was her reincarnation, which would explain why Valak was stalking her for several decades.

Side note: It felt iffy when the crowd started shipping Sister Irene and Frenchie-Canadian after that “kiss of life” scene, complete with an audible (and juvenile) “Yiheeeee!”. I felt the same way when this group of horny teens let everyone know that they were lusting over Phoebe Walker’s Sister Cecilia in Seklusyon. Forgive them Mother Butlers, for they have sinned. (Ang linis ko, thank you!)

7. I really liked that silent circle of prayer scene. Never thought I would ever get scared of a group (waddle? nyahaha!) of nuns especially after Sister Act, but this one came really close when they suddenly blew up in all directions (the Silent Hill-type scene that followed where they weren’t moving when Frenchie-Canadian entered the chamber was spooky, too). And then Sister Irene grew a burning parol on her upper back and I was laughing yet again (still not over all those Jose Mari Chan memes).

Another side note: I suddenly remembered that Netflix movie Veronica with the blind Mother Superior. Considering that I never had the traumatic experience of a nun hitting me with a ruler for wearing a skirt two inches shorter than the required length, I had always wondered why people were actually scared of them. Why would an image of a nun staring directly at you from outside your bedroom window elicit chills? And why would it be frightening if that same nun would now be standing right next to you while you were reading this? Don’t look!!

8. I usually hated watching with such a noisy crowd (seriously, everyone started screaming when the lights were turned off, even if it was just the Aquaman trailer that was played after), but hearing these straight guys pretend to be the bravest souls while clutching on to their girlfriends’ hands just doubled the entertainment factor. And yes, mas malakas pa sila tumili kesa sa mga date nila. Aliw lang.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (Luc Besson, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets:

1. I remember watching the execrable Jupiter Ascending and wishing that it was a ride in Enchanted Kingdom’s Rialto instead. I had the exact same feeling with this newest flick by Luc Besson, something that I should probably have seen in 3D/4DX.

The lack of a solid story would have been forgivable with a more immersive viewing experience (moving seats to match all the chase sequences, blasts of wind from giant ceiling fans, a spray of mist here and there). I was also curious to know the aroma of all those pearls being pooped by the alien armadillos.

2. Kainggit si Ate Avatar. Her prep before an “I woke up like this” Instagram selfie consisted only of a simple facial wash of gold pearls (water-free!) and a few pisil-pisil on her already glowing cheeks. She actually resembled a bald version of Wilma Doesnt, if Wilma ingested a ton of silver and jars of glitter.

3. I know a lot of people that hated Cara Delevingne because 1) she’s part of the Bad Blood squad, 2) they immediately judged her after her snarky (er, frank) comments at a group of elderly morning show hosts while promoting Paper Towns, and 3) they would never ever ever be her. Wait, why do I sound like Tay-Tay? (Answer: I’m a Swiftie and I adore her posse.)

Cara was more of her same sassy self here, trying desperately to create sparks with Dane DeHaan who really looked like her twin brother that hadn’t slept since 2015. I could imagine her rolling her eyes upon reading the part of the script where she was supposed to be hit by the alien king’s crown and had to act funny while fainting cross-eyed. Oh, the things them British had to do to win over the American market!

4. To be fair, this was a visual treat as expected from the same director of The Fifth Element and Lucy. I particularly liked the concept of that CGI market where patrons had to walk around a vast desert while wearing high-tech helmets to see the actual funkadelic stalls.

5. The biggest surprise here was a shape-shifting, pole-dancing, cabaret-performing Rihanna. Sure, the role basically required her to just dance while transforming into a naughty nurse, a naughty school girl, a naughty Roller girl from Boogie Nights, and a naughty French maid among others (if she was a shape-shifter though, why did she choose to always look like Rihanna?), but she brought the necessary sizzle even as a mere voice for her blobby character (best line: “Life’s a drag when you don’t have an identity to call your own”).

I actually stopped caring about the Wonder Twins as soon as she showed up. Her character’s demise signalled the start of another nap in time for the third act.

6. I was a bit distracted by the silver patilya of Clive Owen. Also, Kris Wu. WUW!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆