Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tarot (2009, Jun Lana)

Director Jun Lana is an award-winning playwright and scriptwriter. He is the youngest member of the Palanca Hall of Fame. His first horror film Mag-Ingat Ka Sa...Kulam has a well-written story with a nice plot twist.

However, Tarot, his second horror film, is an overwrought mess. It features a lot of story twists and surprises aimed at keeping the audience hooked. For a while, the ploy works but eventually the story gets too convoluted.

The film starts strong and in a brisk pace. A young girl named Cara stumbles upon the tarot cards of her grandma, Lola Auring (Gloria Romero). Instinctively, she divines what the cards are trying to say. She innocently says to her grandma that there will be a snowfall in the Philippines. When snow-like ash fell and covered their house, the audience is hooked to the story of the elder’s heir apparent and successor.

The movie further unravels the young girl’s use of her divination powers, which was then curtailed by her mother after the death of two family members. We next see Cara (Marian Rivera) as a young lady searching for her lost boyfriend, Miguel (Dennis Trillo). Out of desperation, she retrieves back the tarot cards of her grandma and promptly uses them to rescue her lover. Soon after, her family members and friends meet untimely deaths at the hands of veiled killers.

The plot surprises were not surprising at all. The picture in the wallet of Miguel telegraphs some twists way in advance. The director or editor should have deleted the scene. Also, Lola Nena’s narration of the tarot cards’ connection with a cult leader raises more questions than answers. What exactly triggered the killing spree by the veiled ones? Is there a curse related to using the tarot cards? Is there a curse on the family of the cult leader?

The big question though is how effective is the film in scaring the wits out of audiences? Unfortunately, the film also fails in this aspect. Indeed, no new local horror films this year have been successful in scaring multitudes. There is still hope for horror fans, though. There is still The Echo and some entries at the Metro Manila Film Festival.

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