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!

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movie: shake, rattle and roll xii

shake rattle and roll 12it’s metro manila film festival (mmff) season once again!

every year, i try to watch as many mmff movies as i can. and i always prioritize SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL, the horror franchise that’s been invading christmases since… well, since 2005. or maybe 2004. i’m hazy on the details. have i been successful? no.

but one thing i’ve noticed in the three SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL movies i have seen (in recent years), there’s always one episode that’s outstanding and well made. of, course that’s not discounting the other episodes which were also good. in the first one i saw since the franchise’s reboot, it was “YAYA” with iza calzado and nash aguas. but it had a strong contender with “LRT” that starred keempee de leon, manilyn reynes, eugene domingo and a slew of forgettable young stars.

i wasn’t able to watch the franchise the year after that, but two years ago i attended the premiere night for SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL X–the tenth movie in the franchise. the strongest contender then was “NIEVES: ENGKANTO SLAYER” which starred marian rivera as the title character, and comedian pekto as her husband that all engkantadas (female elves) wanted for themselves. that year, it’s strongest contender was “CLASS PICTURE” which starred jean garcia as a catholic school girl’s worst nightmare: the nun from hell. though, since “NIEVES” is mostly comedy, i guess the best episode should be “CLASS PICTURE.”

this year, i had high hopes for SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL XII. i don’t know why, but i did. i guess it was because i’ve been enjoying watching the movies that i thought this year, they may have three mind-blowing episodes, instead of just two like they always do. now, i’m not saying the episodes these year were not as good as the previous years (i don’t think nothing can beat an evil christmas tree for the worst monster ever), but well– you be the judge.

here’s a breakdown of the three episodes:

MAMANYIKA” capitalizes on the creepy doll device. most everyone knows about the CHILD’S PLAY franchise, but one of the scariest doll story i’ve read about was in an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. yes, i said “read” not “seen.” i still haven’t found a copy of it–but i’m sure it’s somewhere out here in the internet.

back to the story, “MAMANYIKA” is about a little girl who finds a doll at a cemetery. having lost her mother, she decides to take it home with her and pretend that it’s her mommy. when it starts talking and telling her “mama loves you,” it’s as if the little girl had found herself a new mother.

the problem is, the doll doesn’t like sharing the girl’s affections. and, logic says, no one likes a doll that comes to life. so that’s the main dilemma of this episode.

still of "punerarya"i don’t know exactly what i didn’t like about this episode. maybe it was the storytelling? maybe it was the acting? the editing? i don’t really know. but it felt lacking in something.

i chalked this off as filler, hoping the following episode would be better.

it was, in a way.

ISLA,” the second episode is about a mysterious young man who lives by himself in an island. by choice. according to him, he will stay in the island until he completes his promise–which he doesn’t reveal.

and then we have three happy-go-lucky friends who decides to take their vacation at the island. and they start talking about soul mates and destinies–and the female lead decides to go traipsing in the woods alone. smart move.

female lead decides to try finding out who her soul mate–who, of course, turns out to be the mysterious young man. but something also decides in making her the new queen of the under realm. and at this point, i figure that this episode was just an exercise in futility.

the premise of the episode was sound actually. the reason why my synopsis of the events are so lackluster is because i really disliked how the episode was made. it’s the classic story of persephone and hades, with an added filipino flavor. but when the only one likable character in the cast is the male lead’s sounding board–there must be something wrong with the casting, right?

near the end of the episode, i found myself cheering for the monster to kill off the main characters.

by the end of the second story, i found myself wondering what happened to the franchise. it was getting better. i mean, sure it was getting the effect it wanted: people were screaming inside the theater. but it was just cheap scares! that is, until “PUNERARYA” started.

it’s true what they say about saving the best for last. “PUNERARYA,” in my opinion, is one of the most well-written and well-made horror stories ever. and i think it now holds top position in my top five SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL episodes.

PUNERARYA” centers on a teacher who takes on the job of being tutor to two special children. the children’s father is the owner of a funeral parlor, and the family lives just behind their business. everything seems a little weird inside the family home and the funeral parlor, but the teacher thinks she’ll get used to it.

that is, until she discovers that her youngest charge is being maltreated. when he is forbidden to tell her more about the abuse he’s getting, he decides to tell her the family’s secret through hide-and-seek. but what the teacher discovers about the family is something she might not be able to handle. and it’s not something the family would like anyone else to find out about.

nothing is what it seems in this last episode of SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL XII. this is the kind of film you get when you have a very well-written story, and you partner it with an amazing production team. everything is planted. nothing is forgotten.

you will be screaming your lungs out.

PUNERARYA” alone is worth the admission price.