After learning that a group of doctors were killed by super natural forces, Fathers Salvador and Benedicto will have their faith tested when they are tasked to perform an exorcism on a possessed woman named Clarita. Meanwhile, a photojournalist investigates the truth about Clarita’s possession and helps the two priests perform the exorcism. In their journey to help Clarita, they will encounter demonic obstacles that will prevent them from performing the exorcism. This movie is directed by Derick Cabrido under Black Sheep Films.
Inspired by true events, Clarita invested on the fact that somehow it happened in the past and it can happen even up to now. Clarita benefits mostly on the impressive acting performance of Jodi Sta. Maria alongside with brilliantly-executed prosthetic & sound effects. This is very similar with Aubrey Miles’ Sanib in which the exorcism scene is really haunting & memorable. It has some pretty good jump out scares and some spine-chilling moments that is quite unique too. I really commend some transitions in the film. The director creatively played well in blending the present situation as it slowly transitions to the past. Clarita is one of those Pinoy Horror films you should be proud of.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE?
Clarita’s storytelling is a bit messy & cluttered. How I wish the narrative content was given emphasis since we all wanted to know the real story of Clarita and her dark past. It did deliver some chilling moments but I think the whole movie is stretched. I expected so much considering that the story of Clarita is really a good material to begin with. For me, they haven’t utilized much the story line especially the back story. What is also lacking in the movie is the classic horror feels and the terrifying moments you should be feeling during the exorcism scenes. Though, I still must give it to Aubrey Mile’s SANIB on this one. But, Clarita is still a good flick after all.
Rebecca and Arturo’s daughter Manuela just died and their son, Luis, returns home to pay his last respects. But Manuela’s ghost haunts Luis and when he asks his parents, both are tight-lipped. Rebecca, on the other hand, is also experiencing taunting from her daughter. The search for the truth behind Manuela’s death leads Luis to a psychic named Salve who warns him against returning to the old house. But as Luis perseveres to unlock the mystery of his twin sister’s death, he comes face-to-face with the malevolent history of their house and unravels suppressed memories from his dark past. This is directed by Erik Matti under Reality Entertainment.
CAST: Sharon Cuneta, John Arcilla, Kent Gonzales & Bam Gonzales
GENRE: Horror, Mystery, Drama
WHAT I LIKE?
Kuwaresma is perhaps one of the most unique Pinoy Horror Masterpiece ever made and has surely made its mark on the genre. To be honest, I felt like I was watching an International Horror Movie. Let me go into details and don’t worry, no spoilers ahead. First of all – THE STORY. Story-wise, Kuwaresma is about a family haunted by their daughter Manuela and their dark and twisted past as a family living in an old house. At first, it was predictable. But when the twist came, it was truly the best Twist of any Pinoy Horror Movie. It was on-point, disturbing, twisted and mind-blowing. The attack of the story is pretty creative & conventional. They invested much on classic horror tricks an for me, it was effective. Is it SCARY? Yes, it is and I must say it is spine-chilling & disturbing. If you are in for some screaming lead actors and actresses and a movie with heavily-pounded cheap jump-out scares, then KUWARESMA is not for you. Kuwaresma is film that will send creeps into your spine as they invested on new horror techniques along with brilliantly-executed prosthetic. The disturbing feels settles slowly as the story progresses and as it gets darker. The climax was truly evil to say the least. And the twist, DEYYYYM! Still thinking about it after some time. The movie gave a different kind of fear that is close to reality. A fear that can happen to anyone of us. The Exorcism scene was pretty dope and epic. Though, the best exorcism scene still goes to Aubrey Mile’s SANIB but the scene in Kuwaresma is also memorable. Production-design and set-design is highly-commendable too. Set in 1965 and 1985, the film is consistent and has truly invested in making the scenes apt to the Period. I am really amazed. From the house, way of living, casset tapes down to the outfit. Musical-scoring was really impressive. I loved the Introduction Scene by the way. Choices of Music were really great. Cinematography is also commendable. I loved how Erik Matti played with unconventional camera angles to create fear. The Color Grading was also perfect to attribute to the film’s eerie and dark theme. The real strength of Kuwaresma lies on its actors and actresses. Sharon Cuneta delivered her best on her first ever Horror Film. She was just a shining star effortlessly blending with the great actors in the fil. John Arcilla deserves another Acting Award. He was so damn effective on his role. His Exorcism scene will truly be one in the books for sure. New-comer Kent Gonzales is surprisingly great too. Given the amount of screen time given to him, it felt like he was the lead in the movie. But, he was able to deliver at par with Arcilla & Cuneta. Pam Gonzaes (his sister in real life) was also impressive as the haunting spirit. Overall, Kuwaresma gave a new taste in the Pinoy Horror Genre with brilliant plot and a twist that will linger for a while. It may not be as scream-fest as Sukob and Feng Shui, but Kuwaresma will surely be one of your favorite Pinoy Horror Movies on yout list.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE?
Erik Matti should master downsizing some unnecessary scenes and angles specially on the Climax Scene. Some parts of the Climax could have been better if it was shortened. Well, for me, it is forgivable.
The Debutantes is a story of girls aspiring for an enjoyable 18th birthday celebration but has instead turned bloody with a curse cast upon them. This is directed by Prime Cruz under Regal Entertainment Inc.
Casts: Sue Ramirez, Miles Ocampo, Michelle Vito, Jane de Leon, Chanel Morales, Paolo Gumabao,
As a horror film, The Debutantes is generally consistent with its tone, formula and storyline. Horror films produced by Regal Films lately are really changing the industry’s trend in Pinoy Horror film-making. What I like about The Debutantes is its risk in bringing in young and fresh faces in showbiz as its main characters. It was actually refreshing to see these young, talented and beautiful ladies who each portrayed well in their respective roles. Sue was a great lead actress. I can see her shining in every scene and she was able portray well that weirdo and troubled kind of person. Michelle, Chanel, Jane & Miles were all great too. The 3 mean girls were pretty annoying hence they are all effective. Miles was a good support lead too. In terms of plot, The Debutantes is straight-forward in being a Horror film with a handful of solid jump-out scares and fairly-executed death scenes. Its a bloody ride indeed. The sound effects were good and the horror scenes are safely done without some obvious CGI effects. Its dark, silent and mysterious.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE?
The main problem I see with The Debutantes is its obvious flaw of revealing the twist at the first half of the movie. The mystery and excitement of its promising material was ruined because of its predictability in the first place. If you are to indentify the turn around of its plot on the early part, there is no more grand or special to expect but see the characters die one by one. This ain’t a spoiler. The trailer already gave a glimpse of them dying in horrible ways. Being scary in general, the film is only average compared with Regal Film’s best Horror movie so far – Haunted Mansion. What The Debutantes lack is the intensity of its death scenes. I could have expected more since there’s a lot to improve in Pinoy Horror films nowadays. Majority of the death scenes could have been more creative and bloodier too. I mean, the movie is totally dark and straight forward so I expect that they will invest on bloody scenes. Unfortunately, death scenes are in small proportions that could have been way better. The talented casts were really put into waste by its poorly-written storyline that is utterly forgetable. You may or may not watch this on cinemas.
A newly assigned cop in a small town was faced with a mysterious case of a young girl who is believed to be possessed by demons. Aside from solving the girl’s case, the cop must learn to surpass the evils surrounding her and her vulnerability with this dangerous mission. This movie is produced by Erik Matti and directed by Katski Flores under Kamikaze Pictures & VIVA Films.
Casts: Sarah Lahbati, Shy Carlos, Julian Trono, Jim Paredes
Ang Pagsanib kay Leah dela Cruz is no doubt a major breakthrough Pinoy film in the genre of exorcism & suspense-thriller. Actually, it is not a straight horror film so don’t expect some screamfest we enjoyed from the mainstream ones. However, this film is straightforward in bringing in disturbing and spine-chilling feels that lingers even after watching it on the big screen. Story-wise, I really like the way the Director position Ruth’s backstory (Sarah Labahti) through flashbacks and brilliantly integrate it to the whole plot which is the mystery behind Leah’s strange phenomenon. Also, the scenes weere executed well and the phasing was just right to give way to a very thrilling climax. It has some good twist and turns too. The whole storytelling technique was consistently serious and dark. Suspense-filled scenes were executed well too. Its not overrated generally. It invested on the psychological aspect and played well with shadows and whispering voices that are pretty scary and hair-raising. I like the shadow and subtle interpretation of the devil. My most favorite scene is the library scene (Watch it to find out why). The library scene is pretty unique and cool for a suspense-thriller movie. I also like the sound engineering. It was on-point especially on scenes were you are trying to hold your breath if something horrifying will happen. Production design and cinematography is comendable too. I love their locations. It feels so laid back and adds more to the dark atmosphere of the whole film. Camera angles were impressive. I love the shots specifically the tight shots of faces and things. The technique used gave a relentless feel of tension and fear. Aside from an impressive attack on the plot, the film’s strength lies with its characters. For me, I must give it to Sarah Labahti. She was stunning and very convincing as a troubled policewoman in the movie. She is monotonous, brave and less glamorous here and she really fits the role. Shy Carlos was a big revelations too. Being the one who was possessed, her role is the most demanding of them all. She was able to impressively gave justice to her character. I am really amaze with her acting skills here. Lastly, Julian Trono was a great support actor too. He was also effective being a young brother-like figure and his acting during the climax was commendable. Overall, I really enjoyed the film. I am very much happy that a lot of film-makers are coming up with quality suspense-thriller movies nowadays. Highly-recommended for fans of the genre.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE?
If you are expecting a horror movie, this movie is not for you. It is actually a suspense-thriller one. Also, if you get easily bored with less conversations and more symbolism via creative shots and eerie atmosphere, this movie is not for you. Personally, what I don’t like about the movie is the casting of other supporting characters. They could have found a better parents for Leah and a better and younger character to portray Sister Eloisa which plays an important role in the whole film. Being Spoiler-free at all – a certain death scene in the movie could have been way better in terms of execution. Moreover, the movie faltered a bit in terms of execution during the climax. Don’t expect Leah to be tied up on a bed and floating in the air. The movie ventured another angle of that. Not much of the details of the climax but it lacks substance and there was something missing. It feels like the momentum went down because of the camera angle used and the choice of the setting. Not minding this forgivable flaw, Ang Pagsanib kay Leah dela Cruz will go down as one of the best Pinoy suspense-thriller movies and the best of the genre after Sanib.
BLISS is a story about an actress named Jane Ciego who entered showbiz at a young age. Jane, now in her 30s, has become tired of the usual projects she’s been getting. She decides to produce her own film to win some respect in the industry. A terrible accident on the set of her dream project leaves her temporarily crippled, trapped in a house filled with bizarre phenomena and under the care of her unfeeling husband and a strange nurse. With the horrors and madness escalating each day, Jane’s simple dream becomes an endless nightmare. This movie is directed by Jerrold Tarog, the director who gave you Heneral Luna under TBA and Artikulo Uno Productions.
Cast: Iza Calzado, TJ Trinidad, Ian Veneracion, Adrienne Vergara, Michael de Mesa, Shamaine Buencamino, Audie Gemora, Stephanie Sol & Star Orjaloza
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Drama (R18)
WHAT I LIKE?
Bliss is for me a breakthrough film in the field of Psychological thriller. Perhaps, this is the first ever full-length movie and the most consistent masterpiece in the genre that was able to fully show a wide scale of a risky cinematic formula that effectively brought its audience to a whirlwind of twist and turns. More than part of the 12th Osaka Asian Film Festival, Bliss has every right to brag about its material and the brilliantly-crafted elements that will scare and disturb you at some point. For me, I am pretty amaze to finally see a Pinoy creation in this bold and risky take on dream versus realism. The entire flick is a dream within a dream and a movie within a movie. The main plot was presented in a very creative yet confusing manner that will raise lots of questions to the viewers. It evolves around Jane, who is exhausted in her career and wanted to explore more. After meeting an accident, Jane spent her recovery in a huge house where she began nightmares and hallucinations. What amazes me more is the magical hands of Direk Jerrold Tarog investing on various symbolism in the movie and the effective repetition scenes that will confuse you if the scene is a flashback, a dream or a reality. Kudos to the consistency of the symbols used and if you pay attention to the details of it, you can even figure out the plot right away. I loved how Direk Jerrold will take you on different perspective of Jane’s experiences and will raise questions and doubts as the story progresses. I really like the technique applied in the story-telling. Everything is a mixed tape of dream, reality and imaginations with a touch of disturbing and sensitive scenes about homosexuality, greed, sex & even poverty. Bliss is also a metaphor of show business and the ugly side at the back of the camera. I really loved how Direk Jerrold placed a movie within a movie showing back scenes of an ordinary movie shot and a glimpse of the ugly side some celebrities are experiencing. Plus, showing a little bit of conspiracy behind the camera was really fit for the plot. It was just breath-taking. Never a dull moment for me. It was a psychological thriller that is well-crafted with the right balance of disturbance and artistic approach. Kudos to the cast as well especially Iza Calzado (Osaka Asian Film Festival Best actress) for giving a powerful and her best performance yet. I really can see the hard work of Iza here. After her performance here, I must say she deserve that award. I mean, I am speechless with her acting prowess. TJ Trinidad and Ian Veneracion were also a great compliment. They have both gave justice to their roles and I think they were made for it. Adrienne on the other hand, made a surprising performance as a creepy nurse. She was a revelation in the film. The Location of the film were also great. It was consistent with the demand of the plot and the scene. Musical scoring was also good and on-point. I also would like to commend the Cinematography and editing. New techniques were shown in the movie and it did blend well with its dark and eerie atmosphere. Loved the visual editing and the transition. It was on point and very creative. Bliss will require you to look beyond its material and plot. For me, the best and most creatively done Pinoy film to date. Cheers to the cast, crew and Direk Jerrold Tarog.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE?
This is more of a disclaimer: BLISS contains disturbing images, sensitive social issues, nudity and profanity in language that’s why it got R-18 from MTRCB.
Darkroom is the first ever mainstream found footage film ever produced by any Filipino Filmmaker. The film follows a story of teenage friends who found themselves on an abandoned house for some ghost hunting activity. After watching a video from a camera they found inside the house, horrific events began to unfold. Darkroom is produced by Viva Films under the direction of Pedring Lopez.
Casts: Ella Cruz, Bret Jackson, AJ Muhlach, Donnalyn Bartolome, Andrew Muhlach, Rose Van Ginkel, Caleb Santos, Samantha Capulong & Jack Reid.
The risk of Viva Films to finally produce the first ever found-footage film generally delivers to be a decent addition in the genre. For me, it is even better from the 2016 Blair Witch movie (Check Review HERE). Setting aside that is a local film, Darkroom has played well on the major elements of the genre. The movie started off with an intriguing introduction followed by some candid moments of the characters while going to the haunted place to set-up the film’s mood. The phase was just right. What’s great about the movie is it utilized different camera angles from the characters’ cellphones, video cameras, Go Pro and even CCTV cameras from public establishments. Well, for this kind of genre, the horrible part usually takes long to occur. But in Darkroom, the tension slowly builds up the moment they entered the house. I loved also the disconnection effects of the cameras to somehow support the found-footage formula. They were some eerie and decent scares along the way. It was both creepy and bloody. Saw some unexpected and hair-raising scenes as well. Lots of gory scenes to watch out. At some point, I did close my eyes. The film took risk as well in casting fresh faces in the industries. Majority of them are Viva Artists. I must say that Viva did a great job in training the casts. Acting-wise, I am generally satisfied. Aside from the fact that they are all charming especially Jack Reid (the brother of James Reid), all of them have delivered their respective roles. Overall, the film was good. I became proud of it actually. It may not be as scary as hell as it should be but the film was able to send chills while watching it. Considering its a found-footage film, I expected the scary scenes to be cut-short. And in all fairness, Darkroom executed all the scenes well.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE?
Well, they could have chosen a bigger and creepier house that is located in a remote area. The house did not feel abandoned amd secluded since it has neighbors on it. Also, production design needs improvement as well. This is vital in adding to the film’s dark theme. Some lines are cheesy and inappropriate too.