Movie: Shake, Rattle and Roll 13

"Shake Rattle and Roll 13"If last year’s installments of Shake, Rattle and Roll only had one servicable story, this year improves with two. Which makes it a shame that the film outfit who produces the franchise has gone on record to say that this will be the last Shake, Rattle and Roll. Well, maybe for now. True or not though, at least the franchise goes out with a bang with two great horror stories, instead of the usual one.

The great thing about this year’s Shake, Rattle and Roll is the fact that they start the film with the weakest story: “Tamawo“. The premise is this: a farm hand steals a crystal from these creatures who reside in the forest. He hides the crystal, poorly, and refuses to return it. He gets killed. Enter Zanjoe Marudo who gets called in a couple of days later to take on the farm hand’s duties. He brings his family with him because this is supposed to be their new beginning. Of course, whatever happened off screen doesn’t get mentioned–at all–so we don’t know what happened to them that they needed a new beginning. We don’t even know why Maricar Reyes is blind–just that she is.

After the lackluster opening of the creatures dining on the annoying farm hand, we go straight to melodramatic drivel with Zanjoe not liking his son Bugoy. We don’t know why either, except that he’s not supposedly really Zanjoe’s son. And then we head off to the forest with Bugoy who, having already seen the Tamawo creatures, still decides it’s a good idea to head off into the forest alone. And then the cliché kicks in: the Tamawo creatures want their crystal back or they will start killing people. Except they already started killing people. And by this time, we already know that the crystal is really an egg. And no amount of exposition from Celia Rodriguez will give this story much sense.

The story ends with Bugoy sacrificing himself to save his mother and younger sibling. Who is blind. And alone in the forest. Good thing Celia Rodriguez swoops in just in time to save the blind Maricar Reyes–even though she was established earlier to be the only character with sense. Meaning that she wouldn’t go in the forest without knowing that the Tamawo are already appeased. Which they are by Bugoy’s sacrifice–although they already killed three people versus the one egg that was stolen from them.

Basically “Tamawo” is a retelling of the “Nanay” episode from an earlier Shake, Rattle and Roll film; except this time, it has bad direction, bad lighting, bad acting– Let’s just say if you come in to the cinema late when watching this year’s Shake, Rattle and Roll, you did not miss out on anything.

Things take a turn for the better though with the second story, “Parola“, where an age-old feud between witches transcend time to take lives year after year. And while the story does have holes (especially near the end), it doesn’t detract from the fact that it is plotted well–even the late exposition near the end of the story helps create a foreboding vibe, instead of feeling like a last minute know-how to not confuse viewers. The pacing is solid, and lead actresses Louise delos Reyes and Kathryn Bernado give performances that are believable/realistic.

With horror movies, the less we see of the ghosts and other creatures, the scarier they are. But in “Parola“, the production team manages to keep the scare factor of the two witches even though they appear almost throughout the story. Heck, the way they treat the ghost of Dimples Romana’s witch is so exceptionally well done that her appearances will surprise you inspite of the anticipatory music’s presence. Some of the practical effects, like the wounds, could’ve been better–but all in all, this is one of the finest horror stories done in film. Now I feel bad that I hadn’t been able to see the Aswang movie they released a month ago.

The last story, “Rain, Rain, Go Away” wraps things up in a really awesome way by tying its horror story in with a real-life event: Typhoon Ondoy. But what’s really horrifying in this story is the fact that the inhumanity shown in the film is something that really does happen in real life. Here we have a married couple whose way of handling their employees leaves a lot to be desired; because of the logic that unsupervised stay-in employees will escape (and steal) from them during the night, they lock them up inside their living quarters. And so, during the height of Typhoon Ondoy, said employees were drowned inside the factory.

Because of this inhumanity, three spirits who couldn’t accept their fate haunts down the people involved in their death: the owners of the factory that took their life.

The third installment is very well made–and you really can’t expect less from the people behind Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank. But I do have some problems with certain things: Number 1 is the fact that Jay Manalo’s character does, ultimately, care for his employees. He asked his mother to ask the Mayor for help to let them out of the factory’s living quarters. It was his mother who said she can do nothing. I know ghosts are vengeful beings bent on retribution only, but this scene does rub me the wrong way as the ghosts aren’t seeking justice (as they are said to be)–they just want vengeance. On the other hand, this does make for a very effective horror device as you know that no amount of remorse or regret would stop them from killing you.

Number 2 is the autopsy incident. Well, there weren’t any autopsies shown–but we do get two police officers talking about autopsies at the scene of the crime. Within the hour of discovery of the body. My guess is, because of budgetary reasons, a scene that’s supposed to take place in a morgue (or, at the least, a police office setting) was transplanted to the scene of the crime.

My third, and main gripe with the story has to do with the act that started it all: Jay Manalo locking his employees up. The living quarters is a room–with no toilet. Ondoy happened on a Saturday, and the floods started in the morning. By 8 in the evening, the flood waters had already started to go down. And yet we see Jay locking the employees up on the night of the flood. But at the beginning of the story, Jay is out with his wife Eugene Domingo for their anniversary–which is why he couldn’t go to the factory himself to let the employees out. Who, during this anniversary celebration, lost the child in her womb. And yet the next day, Eugene is already accompanying Jay and his family in checking the destruction wreaked by the typhoon on the factory–and the carcasses of the stay-in employees who died. Somewhere along the way, the writer and the production team seem to have lost their way in trying to explain the events–and still tie it in with the events of Ondoy.

But overall though, if you don’t think about it logically, the third story is just as well made as the second one. And having two good stories in three is enough reason to catch this film in theaters. So do check out Shake,Rattle and Roll 13 before the Metro Manila Film Festival is over!