Movie: Shake Rattle & Roll 14

"Shake Rattle and Roll 14"

Shake Rattle & Roll is a long-running film franchise that’s seen a lot of ups and downs.

I remember, as a kid, how scared I was of the films. And then, as I grew older, it’s become less creepy and more cheesy. It didn’t help that when Regal Films decided to bring it back in 2005, they chose a comedienne to headline the comeback. Combine that with less-than-stellar effects, and you get a film that many will watch–but no one will really like.

But that’s not to say that the franchise had completely lost its hold on horror. Since its resurrection, Shake Rattle & Roll has produced a few gems: There’s the Yaya and LRT episode of the 8th film, featuring serious (and grounded) acting that made the fantastic seem plausible; there’s Class Picture and Nieves from the tenth installment, which had a great mix of horror and comedy; Punerarya from the 2010 edition, which had a great mix of acting, scripting, directing, lighting and music; and then there’s Parola from last year, a barebones story that was told really well.

I subscribe to the belief that Shake Rattle & Roll will produce at least one good story every year. And this year, that one story is the first of the three in the fourteenth installment: Pamana.

Pamana tells the story of a family who inherits a fortune from a little known relative. One of the heirs is excited to discover that he is related to a once popular horror comics writer/artist, not so the rest of the relatives. Told to care for the deceased’s four masterpieces, two of the heirs decide to dump the drawings as soon as they are out of the solicitor’s sight. The other two decide to keep their new wards.

If you think these masterpieces will play into the story, you’re right. But not in the way you think. The drawings are quickly forgotten when the horror characters their dead relatives come to life–without explanation of where they came from. (And no, in case you’re asking, they didn’t come from the drawings.) The rest of the story plays out classic Pinoy horror style, with the family getting trapped inside a house and killed by the monsters one by one, with only a few survivors not realizing taht they’re taking the monster out of its prison and out into the world.

Why do I say it’s good? Because it’s entertaining. When a horror story has become confused with its own plot and history, that’s the only thing you can look out for: entertainment value. In this story, it’s Janice de Belen’s larger than life character that steals every scene. Even after realizing you hate her character, you can’t help but wish she survives just because she’s the only character with actual personality.

And then there’s Fabio Ide. Whoever thought to cast him as a lovestruck vampire was a genius. He draws the most laughs with his line delivery. Just imagine it: a Brazilian trying to speak Tagalog with fangs. It’s hilarious.

What came next though was disappointing;

The Lost Command is about a group of soldiers with no clear mission traipsing in the woods. They are cut off from their base because their radio couldn’t pick up any signals, and then they have an encounter with weird people in the woods. People who have a gray pallor and are super fast.

They’re supposed to be zombies, but you’d be confused. They don’t look dead–instead, they look like people who fell into vats of ashes. And the fact that they’re super fast goes against the idea of the undead. They’re rotting corpses, moving fast would only hasten their decomposition.

If you take it as a zombie story, The Lost Command would make more sense. Then, it would just be about a group of soldiers fighting to stay alive. But if you take out the zombie aspect, which is what this story did, it’s just a jumbled mess of soldiers fighting against super soldiers who want to eat them.

It’s not scary, it’s disgusting. And it’s not even entertaining as the whole thing just drags.

And then Unwanted begins.

The last story features a couple who had just found out that they’re expecting. The girl has decided that she wants an abortion, because she has plans of migrating and stuff. The guy, while disagreeing, knows he cannot sway her decision. They go to the mall to pick up a gift for the guy’s parents, and then something crashes into the mall.

That’s where the story ends. The rest of the production plays out like a video game in which characters are just moving through wreckage to find the exit and survive. Our main character moves from location to location (and can I just say that the whole set does not look like a decimated mall? It looks like a set), meets new characters who are quickly killed off, and then survives–to find out that the world as he knew it no longer exists.

It would have been okay, I think, had we gotten decent actors. But no. Aside from Vhong Navarro, Lovi Poe, and Carlo Aquino, the rest of the cast seemed to have embraced the fact that they are red shirts. Cannon fodders. No one really acted and most spewed dialogues that didn’t make sense because something else happened.

I mean, does telling someone that they’d go back for a fallen comrade after seeing said comrade devoured by a monster sound smart to you? I don’t care if it was in the script, but this film was dubbed after the edits. (And the character who delivered the dialogue was also the one to say that their comrade was devoured, later on.) How difficult was it to take out the dialogue? Or to dub it differently?

Leaving the cinema, everyone was abuzz–about how disappointing this year’s Shake Rattle & Roll was.

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