Movie: Honor Thy Father

"Honor Thy Father"

After years of financial struggle, Kaye and Edgar are finally on a roll. Kaye has made millions promoting her father’s investment scheme to her friends and fellow Pentecostal parishioners at the Church of Yeshua. But their world unravels instantaneously one day when Edgar swings by his father-in-law’s house to find the place ransacked and the old man gone. It doesn’t take long for Kaye’s friends to turn on the couple, who go to the fiery bishop for help. But he’s not exactly generous, preoccupied as he is with raising money for a new temple (and with the promise of extravagant kickbacks). The parishioners continue to demand their money back, and Kaye and Edgar start receiving death threats. When the tension erupts in violence, Edgar decides to seek the aid of his criminally inclined family.

What is there to say about Honor Thy Father other than the fact that it was beautifully made? Director Erik Matti and Cinematographer Ber Cruz made even the tightest and dirtiest look cinematic. The first thought in my head coming out of the cinema was that this is the film that will become part of film class curriculum.

Meryll Soriano and Krystal Brimner were the standouts when it came to acting, delivering nuanced performances that made their characters feel strikingly real. Perla Bautista and Boom Labrusca both delivered solid support as well, making their presence felt without taking away the focus from the lead actors.

And then there’s John Lloyd Cruz.

I’m not a fan of John Lloyd, to be honest, but there’s something about his ticking-time-bomb performance that I felt really captured the essence of the film. That said, I like him better in the scenes where he doesn’t have lines, the ones where he lets his actions and reactions speak for him.

If you have seen and enjoyed Heneral Luna, you have to watch this film. It has the core of an independently-produced film with the budget of a mainstream movie–so we get the best of both worlds. And all I have left to say is that, I think Honor Thy Father is the best film off the past year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. So watch it.

Show the mainstream media that there is room for films like this. For stories that aren’t cookie-cutter romances, and aren’t trope-filled horrors, and aren’t slapstick comedies. We’re always lamenting the dying movie industry because it’s inundated with movies that cater to the escapist nature of the Filipinos, and yet most of those complaining don’t even bother watching films like this when they come out.

The movie industry will stay in its deathbed unless we support the films we want more of. If we want more quality films, it’s time to put money where our mouths are.

Movie: Tiktik, the Aswang Chronicles

"Tiktik: the Aswang Chronicles"

This is the story of a proud man who wants to do right with the love of his life. And what happens when he crosses the wrong people in his journey to do so. Oh, and it has monsters.

Tiktik: the Aswang Chronicles is a return to horror films of old, and I am happy to say that it succeeded in that aspect.

Horror is most effective when it is rooted in reality, and when stakes are high. This is one of the things I gleaned from years and years of watching horror film. And this is also the reason why I’m not too fond of so-called horror films of late, with their emphasis on the twists and new takes, instead of on what’s important–the heart. Something Tiktik didn’t forget.

Heck, the movie tagline says it is a movie with heart–among other internal organs.

Which brings me to one of the main reasons why I think Tiktik is the horror film to beat this year: it’s funny.

Now, Tiktik is in no way a perfect film. The green-screen gimmick they employ works really well in some parts, and flounders in many scenes–but the real draw of the film should’ve been its story-telling, and its flawless supporting cast of characters.

Joey Marquez and Janice de Belen steal every scene they’re in, even during the parts where Marquez’s falters in his comic timing. Ramon Bautista’s character was better on page than on screen, but even he has good moments. And Lovi Poe, I think, would’ve been a greater screen presence if her character had been more consistently bad-ass.

Dingdong Dantes though, as the lead, is 50/50. He has a deft handle on the action, the drama–and how he played the douche-ness of his character. His comedy needs a lot of work though, with only a couple of his one-liners actually landing laughs during the screening I went to.

But my main gripe actually has to do with the effects of the film, which I felt detracted instead of added to the scare factor of the film.

The team behind the movie, from the way I understand it, spent a large amount of time and money on this. And having done that, I wonder why they couldn’t have delayed the movie a few months more to clean-up the effects on the film’s climax.

Let’s go back to what I said a few paragraphs ago; “the green-screen gimmick flounders in many scene.” That’s because for the most part, the computer-generated landscape and effects were flawless. Which makes the scenes where they’re not flawless all the more glaring. Like when the villains transform into actual monsters–and when said monsters attack.

And during the climactic battle, there were times when the effects were passable. And then you’d get a couple scenes that looked as if the effects editor forgot to replace it with the finished product, having put in placeholders instead. And the uneven color-grading which made the end part of the film look haphazardly put-together. Which, I think, really detracted from the film.

Which is too bad, because I feel like this is the best horror film I’ve seen in a good long while–and I’m including international horror films in that statement. Which makes me wish that the production outfits behind the movie had decided to just shoot the film as they normally would. Which physical effects mixed with the computer-generated ones.

All this said though, I’d still recommend Tiktik: the Aswang Chronicles to anyone who asks. Heck, I’d even recommend it to people who aren’t even asking about it.