Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yanggaw (2008, Richard Somes)

Early editions of Cinema One Originals brought us two exemplary horror films. Topel Lee’s black-and-white film Dilim is about a male vampire who fights criminals and evil beings. It is sort of a Filipino Batman movie. The second film, Altar, was directed by Rico Ilarde. It is an excellent chiller dealing with a former boxer destined to keep an evil spirit from wrecking havoc. Both directors went on to do horror films for major studios. However, none of their well-budgeted films matched the chills of their earlier films.

Last year’s horror treat from Cinema One Originals is a fairly good movie. Yanggaw nabbed most of the awards, including the Best Director award and the Audience Choice award, at the 2008 competition. The two leads, Ronnie Lazaro and Tetchie Agbayani, grabbed the top acting plums.

Yanggaw is a Hiligaynon word meaning infected. A doctor advises Amor Villacin (Aleera Montalla) to go home to recuperate from her illness. When her bouts with sudden weakness worsen, her mother seeks help from faith healer Lazarus (Erik Matti). He tells the family members that Amor is infected by a poison of an evil spirit. Amor slowly transforms into an aswang, a monster feasting on flesh and blood.

Junior (Ronnie Lazaro) had a hard time accepting his daughter is a monster. He chains her to a bed for days but eventually frees her out of pity and paternal love. Amor starts to feed on stray animals. Soon, human corpses start to appear in the village. Junior makes a special request for Amor not to prey on her family but to kill only their neighbors and strangers.

Director and scriptwriter Somes wanted audiences to realize the repercussions of extreme loyalty to family members and kin. The excellent script deftly tackled the terrifying tendency of some Filipinos to cover up crimes of their family members. Junior and his son kept quiet about their involvement in the death of a stranger. The whole Villacin family was soon infected by this negative trait. The family members allowed Amor to quench her thirst for blood. In the end, they paid a huge price for their misdeeds.

The direction is superb although a bit stagy with the interior scenes. The director’s handling of the actors is excellent. The acting by the whole ensemble is one of the film’s best assets. I also remember the amazing special effects and sound effects. The part showing Lazarus’ attempt to expel the evil spirit is a memorable scene. It makes your blood curdle while at the same time feeling sorry for the family members.

Yanggaw may not be at par with the magnificent Altar but I liked it better than the latest horror blockbusters such as Lee’s Sundo, Ilarde’s Villa Estrella, and Chito Roño’s T2. There is no horror entry in the Cinema One Originals competition this year, so if you want to sample a Cinema One horror film, then catch Yanggaw while it is still showing at indieSine.

1 comment:

  1. Looks interesting, I like horror thanks for sharing.

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