Movie: Segunda Mano

"Segunda Mano" directed by Joyce BernalI’m not sure if this was intended to be a funny horror film, but that’s what I got after watching the film. In fact, I have been asking my friends if they think that movie was intentionally made to be funny; trying to make fun of horror film clichés. The thing is, while some scenes support this claim–mostly the ones that feature Bangs Garcia and/or Mosang–most of the film is still played as a straight-up horror flick.

But I’m probably getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with what the story is about.

There’s a man called Ivan who has a tendency to be… well, to be possessive. He had a wife, Mariella, who suddenly disappeared and left him and their daughter. And then there’s Mabel, a woman with enough baggage for a dozen people. Thirteen months later, because it has to be thirteen, Ivan is now dating Mabel. And Mariella is nothing more than a memory in the mind of Ivan’s daughter.

Except she isn’t. Because one night, when Mabel had to take an out-of-the-way route to avoid flooded streets, she encounters the ghost of Mariella. And having latched on to her, the ghost will do everything to prevent her from having a happily-ever-after with Ivan. And how does she do this? By giving Mabel her bag, and the the clothes off her back–and her car. Yes, this ghost can afford to buy duplicates of everything she owns so she could use them to scare Mabel.

For the sake of not revealing the twist–which you’ll probably guess the minute all the characters are given screen time–I won’t say anything more regarding the story. Instead, I’ll focus on the technical aspects of the film. Which I usually try to avoid talking about, but hey, I need something to write about.

The effects are nice. Understated. This is the most effective way of utilizing effects in a horror film. It shouldn’t take away from the psychological horror that the story is presenting to the moviegoers. They shouldn’t take away from the scares that the viewers are already imagining themselves. Though, Angelica Panganiban’s make-up as the dead Mariella could have used some consistency–and less gore. A beautiful ghost can easily be just as scary as a mutilated ghost–provided that the viewers have enough reason to be scared of said ghost.

Dingdong Dantes won an acting award for this film. Having seen five of the seven entries in this season’s film festival, I could see why Dingdong would be chosen as the best actor. Then again, I haven’t seen Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow yet. I might still be proven wrong. But, the thing is, while Dingdong didn’t exactly show anything new in terms of his acting, he did give it his best shot. He didn’t shy away from looking mentally-retarded while doing a certain climactic scene that establishes his relationship with Mabel. So I guess it was enough to be hailed as the Best Actor off this crop of film festival entries.

In my opinion though, the person who really carried this movie was Bangs Garcia. I’m not familiar with most of her work, but she is very effective in this film as the character saddled with logic. She manages to shine in her every scene–and she even manages to make the scenes with Kris Aquino bearable to watch. Another person who should be commended, though she only appeared in two scenes, is Mosang. The comedienne succeeds in making the most of the material she was given, and provided a good laugh just when things were getting dull.

As for the rest of the technicals… The lighting and music were good enough; the wardrobe was nothing special, but they served their purpose; and the extras, save for one Lilia Cuntapay, were utilized well enough. The one thing that really rubbed me the wrong way with this film though were the twists. That I’m trying not to spoil. So I’ll leave it at that.

Overall though, the film is worth watching–if you’re looking for scares that will also tickle your funny bones. But if you’re looking for straight-up scares, go for Shake Rattle and Roll 13–though, you can feel free to skip the first story.

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