ILAWOD (Dan Villegas, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Ilawod:

1. For me, Pinoy horror stories with their local settings, deeply-rooted mythologies, and fascinating folklore would always be much scarier than any Hollywood flick. Whereas Linda Blair and her spinning head made me cackle with glee, I almost peed my pants when Manilyn Reynes was stalked by a horde of aswangs led by Vangie Labalan. I could never picture Valak looking at me through a mirror, but I could easily imagine that dead nun killed during the Bataan Death March in the Magandang Gabi Bayan Halloween episode staring right at me from outside my bedroom window. This must be all coming from my childhood belief that Count Dracula and every other foreign monster would never even bother taking a 21-hour flight to the Philippines.

2. I really tried to like this movie especially since I was easily drawn to the very Pinoy story of the Ilawod, a water elemental living in streams known to dominate human bodies and suck the souls out of them (the name itself literally means downstream). Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to differentiate itself from other horror movies with genre tropes that included an exorcism and possession.

There was a scene with a kid drawing black rings that could have been an early promo for the new Rings sequel. The real face of the Ilawod looked like a monster from Pan’s Labyrinth. The elevator footage eeriely resembled that viral video with Elisa Lam (Google it!). Even the haunting scenes involving water (dripping from the ceiling, puddles on the floor) in the condominium seemed to have been borrowed heavily from Hideo Nakata’s Dark Water.

3. In the opening scene, an old lady was possessed by the Ilawod and when she saw Ian Veneracion (playing a daddy daddy beat reporter), her long pointed tongue started flailing like crazy and my very first thought was, “Why wouldn’t it?” Veneracion just didn’t age since his Anak ng Demonyo days and I could easily see hordes of women and gay men doing the exact same thing when they see him in person, with or without spirit possession. (Where did you find the Fountain of Youth, Ian? Tell us please!!)

4. I might have missed it, but I couldn’t understand why the Ilawod got really mad at Ian and wanted to exact revenge on him and his family aside from the fact that he didn’t believe in the supernatural. I’d rather assume that she was just being bitter for getting rejected by a hottie.

5. I kinda felt bad for Therese Malvar since she’s currently one of the best young actresses in Philippine cinema and she got stuck playing an elemental with heavy makeup and a brushed-up wet look hairdo while sporting Mother Lily’s magic white kamison. I also couldn’t believe that Ian’s teenage son never once bothered to ask why she never changed outfits or why she was always making tambay by the poolside.

6. Speaking of teenagers, I was really shocked at how much Xyriel Manabat has grown. Her transformation made me feel even more old. But wait, why didn’t she look like any of her parents (the mother was played by Iza Calzado)?

In one hilarious scene, she was attacked by the Ilawod so she ran to her parents’ bedroom but the door remained locked. Her parents kept knocking and pulling on the knob but the door just wouldn’t budge. In her state of panic, Iza then asked the most logical question: “Ano na bang nangyayari sa mga anak natin?” HUH?!!

At least after that incident, she regained her bearings and got the services of Father Pnoy to bless their unit.

7. With its blatant sexualization of kids, I was surprised that the movie still took the safer, more sanitized route. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t suggesting a love scene, but I would have preferred it if not everything (even just a simple kiss) were merely suggestive. Nothing wrong with a horror movie making people squirm in their seats and making them feel uncomfortable.

8. If the Undin made me stay away from the sea, this one made me reconsider making tampisaw in a batis.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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LOVE ME TOMORROW (Gino Santos, 2016)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Love Me Tomorrow:

1. Dawn Zulueta would always be one of the loveliest faces in Philippine showbiz (Fountain of Youth? Renew Placenta Soap? Tell us your secret!) so it was hard to stomach that her pairing with Piolo Pascual was considered a May-December love affair. Seriously, in what universe would they be seen in a mall and people would mistake him as her son? I even cringed a bit when he called her Tita because they looked practically the same age (no, the earring didn’t make him look a decade younger). If they really wanted to show the disparity, they should have gotten Inigo Pascual instead, but I guess believability wasn’t the movie’s strongest suit.

2. “Life as I knew it was over nung ma-stroke ang asawa ko after 15 years of marriage.” Huh? What kind of wife are you? What happened to the in sickness and in health vow? Naka-wheelchair lang ang asawa mo katapusan na ng mundo? Since she was married to a much older man (Freddie Webb, or at least his Madame Tussaud’s version), I guess that solidified the perception that she was just after his money.

3. Do vets really administer rabies shots to humans? If I were bitten by a dog in Alabang Town Center, I would have rushed myself to RITM instead so I was really curious.

4. The Animals and #Y perfectly captured the fun and filth of the younger generation’s lifestyle and this was no exception. That scene where Dawn ended up wasted after a night of clubbing was reminiscent of Danny Boyle’s camerawork in Trainspotting (I really thought there would be projectile vomiting involved but I guess there was a specific clause in Dawn’s contract pertaining to cleanliness and hygiene).

5. MOMOTA = make out make out tapos awkward

DFML = da fuck makaimbento lang

6. Dawn made the most out of the terrible material thrown her way and I really enjoyed all the Titas of Manila bits (the occasional old women brunch, the joke involving Oriental Palace vs The Palace, her old person dance moves, the frequent Zumba references, etc.).

Still, I couldn’t understand why a smart designer like her would be the type to get lost in a beach in Laiya (how big was that resort?) or would prioritize pag-kerengkeng when she was supposed to launch her own line and fulfill her lifelong dream. No wonder her models had ill-fitting clothes on the runway.

7. Pet peeve in movies: People having a normal (slightly louder) conversation in clubs. Any party person would know that you could barely hear anything with the loud music and you could actually use this to make a move and whisper some nonsense while really close to your crush’s ear. (Everyone has tried that, right?)

8. Yes, Piolo had lots of topless scenes. (I get this question in every review so I might as well respond to it beforehand.)

Also, the sex scene between Piolo and Dawn was so tame (read: pa-ahrt) that it could very well have been the first one to be rated General Patronage.

9. Piolo was such an in-demand DJ that he only had one song (Love Me Tomorrow Tatlong Bibe Remix, of course!) in his setlist. Groan.

10. “Kailan pa naging mali na piliin ang maging masaya ka?” Gurl, siguro pag merong nasasaktang iba?

11. Who played Coleen Garcia’s sister? She looked and talked like she was born from and raised in a different household.

12. Continuity issue: Dawn called Piolo as babe while they were walking in Madrigal Business Park and then a few scenes after she was surprised when Piolo called her babe and she asked if that was their pet name. Huh?

13. Someone had what looked like a cold sore on the lower lip. Eew! Please tell me that was a pimple.

14. Kagulo ang last act. Why should we even care about these petty people with their petty problems? This movie should not have been two hours long.

15. As always, the failure of a love story was the fault of a successful career woman. Ugh.

Anyway, that scene on the bench where Dawn was giving motherly advice to Piolo reminded me of another May-December Pinoy movie, Jerry Lopez-Sineneng’s Soltera with Maricel Soriano, Diether Ocampo, and Claudine Barretto. It was much better, funnier, and it didn’t include a SunLife commercial.

16. Since this was by Star Cinema, the cameos in the end weren’t really surprising. Actually, it made the pairing even more dreadful since the people were obviously more kilig with Dawn and Richard Gomez. We demand a CharDawn movie!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆