GUNI-GUNI (Tara Illenberger, 2012)

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My biggest problem was that you could easily guess the twist within the first 10 minutes. It wasn’t even a good twist to begin with so they had to pile several sub-plots that served as red herrings.

The movie didn’t offer anything new and hewed closely to the typical Asian horror genre (I did not see the Thai film “Alone” so I wasn’t sure if they copied parts or all of that one). This was the kind of movie where a girl with long hair covering her face and wearing a white gown would suddenly drop to the floor and crawl spider-like to her victim. The only reasonable explanation was that she idolized Sadako.

Completely lame and not-at-all scary.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

(Originally published September 3, 2012.)

DOTGA: DA ONE THAT GHOST AWAY (Tony Reyes, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on DOTGA: Da One That Ghost Away:

1. I was surprised that Vhong Navarro wasn’t included in the cast given that he headlined the last two horror-comedy films of Star Cinema (please note that I didn’t consider the unintentionally comedic horror films of Kris Aquino, like Segunda Mano where she pissed her pants in terror for buying a secondhand Prada bag).

In terms of comparison, this one was less like Bulong (actually a guilty pleasure) and more of Da Possessed (which had the gall to make fun of Vhong’s rape case). I already expected tons of corny jokes and lame slapstick humor, but even with my IQ lowered and in full babaw mode, I could only muster one giggle in all 100 minutes (again, I only counted the intentional one because I spent the entire movie hysterically laughing at Enzo Pineda’s acting that he equated with wide eyes and flaring nostrils).

2. Carmel (Kim Chiu) and Jerald (Ryan Bang) were ghost hunters slash con artists that brought along their team dressed as horror film characters (Ghost Bride, Chucky, Tiyanak, etc.) to terrorize and pretend exorcise haunted houses. She used a magical triangle (yes, the musical instrument in the percussion family) and shouted nonsensical chants (“Mother Ignacia! Sergeant Esguerra! Papuntang Abra!”) as part of her ritual. I was surprised that there were people who actually fell for this kind of silliness (although their first victim was a Krizzy impersonator and we all knew how gullible she could get).

3. This movie was rated PG because the MTRCB thought that parents could easily explain what Carmel meant when she said “Sabi na di ako nagpi-pinger eh” after using a dating app called PinGer. Or why she kept emphasizing the name of Enzo as JACK COLmenares (just in case it still wasn’t obvious enough, his name was written exactly like that on a white board). Should we expect the Colmenares sisters to be named Jaja, Nadia, and Gina? Seriously, this type of Pinoy green humor hadn’t been funny since my high school days circa ‘90s.

4. Terrible, terrible editing. In one scene, Serrah (Maymay Entrata) was looking at her compact mirror and asking “What is that ghost I see?” and then it abruptly cut to her and Chire (Edward Barber) walking to school. What was that about?

(Also, as a huge #MayWard fan, please give them a good film that they actually deserved! Sayang talaga sila!)

5. Oh, Jerald also worked as a language teacher in a school called Fil-Eng-The-Blanks. Wala na bang ikaka-corny pa ang pelikulang ito?

6. The only funny scene that I mentioned earlier was a brief gag where Carmel hugged a sweaty Jack, then wiped the wet part of her cheek with her left hand, and smelled it like she was endorsing the newest Downy fabric conditioner. It was a testament to Kim’s charm and sharp comic timing that a throwaway moment like that would actually work.

7. If Enzo acted like his life (or career?) depended on it, on the other end of the spectrum was Ronnie Alonte who didn’t even feel the need to act at all (was it because it was just a cameo role?).

8. Tabako vs Sadako? Bearable. Valak vs Halak? Meh. Black Panty vs Black Panther? Wala na maisip??

9. I felt bad for the extras in the scene where they pretended to freeze as part of a spell (think Mannequin Challenge only without music). Carmel had this really lengthy monologue (“Oo nasaktan na ako lola. Shinota niya ang best friend mo!!”) and you could actually see some of them in the background starting to shake (as in nanginginig na sa sobrang ngalay). I could have subbed for any of them because I had always been a master Statue Dancer.

10. Carmel: “Ikaw pa rin ang DOTGA ko!”

Jerald: “Da One That Ghost Away?”

Carmel: “Da One That Gusto Ako Pero Baka Maging Gusto Ko Rin!!”

Huh? Isn’t that DOTGAPBMGKR?!

Kimmy, pinapainit mo ang anit sa ibabaw ng ulo ko!!

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

RINGS (F. Javier Gutierrez, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Rings:

1. Huge advancements in technology had not been kind at all to this tired, old franchise. Fifteen years ago, a long-haired girl in a white kamison crawling out of a television screen might have been considered scary. But very much like VHS tapes, this type of horror now felt very much outdated (and definitely not vintage).

Besides, in this day and age where one could update his Facebook status on a watch, who else would be using a VCR (or even had one that was still working)?

Even more absurd, not a single click-hungry site (not BuzzFeed, not TMZ, not even Snopes!) picked up the urban legend of a killer video. I actually expected it to be the most viewed clip in YouTube and Samara’s/Sadako’s biggest problem would be how to properly schedule the deaths of millions of people that watched. Surely, she would rather jump back in the well out of sheer exhaustion.

2. If you hadn’t seen The Ring or Ring Two (or their far superior Japanese source Ringu), let me do a quick recap. Adopted child drowned in well for having witch powers wanted to seek revenge on mankind through a cursed video that killed its viewers after seven days and the only way to escape death was to create a copy that somebody else needed to watch.

Yup, it worked exactly like a chain letter or an ambush multi-level marketing scheme in Starbucks. Scary, huh?

3. This entire lore was completely thrown out the window when Samara basically chose whoever she wanted to kill and towards the end of the movie even turned into a virus and started sending her own video to everyone on a character’s contact list. I was guessing part of her rebirth consisted of becoming the ultimate social media famewhore. (Also, sorry bitch, but the terrible Feng Shui 2 beat you to it.)

4. I definitely missed Naomi Watts who brought a certain depth in an otherwise standard fright flick. In this one, she was replaced by some college kids that didn’t know how to act scared or even let out a proper scream. Nobody could authentically pull out an incredibly long and chokeable foreign matter out of one’s throat (you pervert!) like Naomi and she did it first and much better in The Ring.

5. In one scene, a girl entered a projector room and disturbed everyone else that was seated when she crossed their path to get to the other side. It reminded me so much of my terrible viewing experiences in Greenbelt 3 Cinemas 1 and 2 where people would treat the last row of seats as if it was an aisle for them to get to the bathroom (and of course, they would return to their seats the same way and bother you a second time around). Hmm, I should probably start listing down my cinema pet peeves.

6. Hala biglang naging Don’t Breathe! What the fork!

7. If you were the type that get easily scared by umbrellas that loudly open, you would enjoy this one. As for me, na-sad ako. (Whee! I’m so punny!)

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

LIGHTS OUT (David Sandberg, 2016)

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My notes on Lights Out:

1. Whenever I watch a horror flick, I feel like I work in Monsters Inc. (“We scare because we care!”) because I find glee in hearing the screams of the audience. The more frightened they are, the louder their cries (to the point of being annoying), the noisier the theater, the more I enjoy it. Sometimes I even end up liking that experience more than the actual movie.

2. If you still haven’t seen the short film that this was based on, here’s the link: https://youtu.be/-fDzdDfviLI. It’s only three minutes, it’s free, and it’s infinitely better than the full-length feature. (I liked the cameo of Lotta Losten, though. She was the star of the short and played the assistant during the opening sequence.)

3. The basic premise of the movie hinged on the flicking of light switches. But really, if you saw a strange figure standing in the dark, would you still turn the lights off (then on and off and on and off) again just to check if it was just your imagination?

That was exactly what the people here did the entire time. Characters entered rooms without bothering to turn on the lights. Their idea of safeguarding a haunted house was placing tape on the switches (because they never heard of power fluctuations and blackouts) and lighting candles (because an open flame would never get blown out by the softest fart).

4. In one scene, the boyfriend of Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) left a used sock in her drawer as a sign of taking their relationship to the next level. The fact that she was still able to locate that hidden sock meant that it must have smelled really bad and I was surprised that she didn’t break up with him right there and then.

5. If there was one thing that creeped me out here, it was when the mother (Maria Bello) was talking to something (someone?) in her room and kept using the pronoun “we” in her questions (“Did we wake you?”). I wish they were able to develop this mental illness plot further and gone The Babadook route. Monsters could be lurking under the bed, but I was more scared of the ones inside our heads.

6. Martin (Gabriel Bateman) was one brave kid. The door (with a creepy shadow behind it) slammed shut on him and he just calmly walked down with his backpack, all prepared for a slumber party with his sister (I did chuckle a bit when he said, “Ready!”). If that happened to me, I probably would have peed my pants and let out the loudest non-human shriek.

7. Where could I buy that wind-up rechargeable flashlight? I laughed so hard in that scene because someone loudly said, “Ay ang taray!”.

8. Should we blame Sadako for starting this trend of ghosts with broken bones? It just wouldn’t be as scary unless they were all hunched up and dragging their feet, right?

9. “There’s no you without me.” These hugot lines are basically everywhere.

10. I couldn’t wait for a local rip-off (“Brownout”?) where the climax would be the mother (preferably Lotlot de Leon) shining brightly and killing the darkness monster because she’s the…Ilaw ng Tahanan. Whee!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆