Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shake Rattle & Roll X (2008, Mike Tuviera / Topel Lee)


Filmmakers Mike Tuviera and Topel Lee tried their best to scare viewers in the first two chapters, which are set in places people are likely to regard as safe and secure. Emergency is an aswang story set in a busy hospital. A major theme from the short feature is environmental degradation, which also crops up in the Tuviera-megged Nieves. The aswangs are forced to come out after incursions by people into their forest haven. They fight back after the death of their leader's child.

I love the black smoke effects by Larger Than Life. The ceiling-and-wall climbing aswangs need a little bit of tinkering and polishing, though.

Class Picture segment stars Gerald Anderson, Kim Chiu, and Erich Gonzales. It deals with a group of students attempting to stop a curse wrought by a nun who taught at 19th century San Selino College. The short feature is good enough for a few shrieks.

The handful of scares gives way to laughter. Yes, you read it right. Laughs came courtesy of the charming third segment featuring Marian Rivera as a kooky slayer named Nieves. Think of a 21st-century Gabriela Silang. Provide her with a Batman-worthy belt set and a native bag full of amulets, potions and knick-knacks (bluetooth headset!). Then, garb her in a sexy ultra-modern terno. What you get is the first engkantolarya, a lovely and courageous slayer of jealous engkantos, mischievous creatures, and terrifying monsters.

Nieves is a female albularyo raised to the next level. Not only can she cure mysterious illnesses, she kills off the root of the maladies with the ease of Buffy. Add the frank, acerbic wit of a stand-up comic, the pop culture sensibility of a jolog, and the mesmerizing beauty of a lovestruck angel, and you've got yourself one of the best movie characters in a long, long while.

Nieves was supposed to have a spin-off film last year but it didn't push through. It would have been a well-deserved break from the Shake, Rattle & Roll (SRR) formula of pure thrills and chills.

The horror series is a perennial blockbuster during the holiday season. But, most of the stories are basically pedestrian, recycled ones. Regal Films is wily enough to throw in the star power in order to camouflage the weaker segments. The tenth edition of the series is one of the better editions yet. Nieves is up there with the SRR gems such as Ishmael Bernal's Pridyider. For those wondering, Rivera has a starring role in an entry to the 2010 Metro Manila Film Festival. I hope she does magic once more to her new character, Super Inday.

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