My notes on the aptly-named Tragic Theater:
1. The urban legend surrounding the Manila Film Center accident in 1981 was the stuff of a great horror movie. Apparently, Imelda Marcos wanted the building completed as part of the beautification of Manila in time for the first Manila Film Festival. Rescuers weren’t allowed at the site until 9 hours after the accident. Since the construction had to be rushed, some bodies were buried alive and the rest were never retrieved. The ghosts of these men still haunted the said building. Spooky, right? All of these were never in the movie.
2. The screenplay was credited to Movpix Creatives. Was this a pseudonym or a group of geniuses that came up with the following choice lines:
Spirit Questor to ghosts: “Ang babaw ng mga dahilan nyo. Wala kayong pakialam sa aming mga buhay pa. Umalis na kayo!!”
Spirit Questors to the possessed Andi Eigenmann (Annie) floating 10 feet in the air: “Annie, bumaba ka diyan!!”
John Estrada (Fr. Nilo) gave a long sermon on why everyone should listen to him (all while Annie floated) and ended it with: “Wag na tayong magsisihan.”
Fr. Nilo: “Sino ang nasa katawan ni Annie?”
Possessed Questor: “Hindi namin siya kilala. Ang tawag namin sa kanya ay Diablo.”
Fr. Nilo: “Maari mo ba sabihin kung ano ang itsura ng Diablo na ito?”
The group asked for help from a Bishop (Christopher de Leon) and Fr. Nilo said: “Hindi ko po alam ang nangyari kay Annie pero nakasabit po sya sa ere.”
Annie during flashbacks: “Anong nangyayari? Bakit bumabalik ang mga nakaraan ko?”
3. I honestly couldn’t remember the rest of the atrocious dialogue from laughing too hard.
4. Did we really need that flying scarf?
5. I loved how the movie wanted to be a Public Service Announcement regarding the horrors of technology. There was a scene where Annie was checking her phone while driving and she almost rammed into another car. In another scene, everyone that was part of the seance was given the directive “Walang bibitaw” and when her phone rang, the first thing she did was check it. Twice.
6. To be fair, there were glimpses of the greatness of Tikoy Aguiluz who made Pinoy classics like Bagong Bayani and Segurista. But then again, three beautiful shots couldn’t compensate for an hour and a half of torture.
7. There was a gratuitous rape scene that merited the R-16 rating, a hint of a relationship between Annie and Fr. Nilo, and an overlong possession story with the Bishop. Too many stories being crammed when all it needed was focus on the actual theater plot.
8. Dear Andi, when your mother is considered one of Philippine Cinema’s Greats, you just can’t give that kind of performance.
9. It took the team a good forty minutes to realize that all they needed to bring Annie down was a stepladder. Really.
10. Hint of a sequel? I can’t wait!!
(Originally published January 12, 2015.)