MOVIE REVIEW: Horror flick, ‘Pagpag: Siyam Na Buhay’ is the second film we watched today, the opening day of the 39th Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). First was ‘Boy Golden’.
Our MMFF 2013 movie marathon aims to show support to the local film industry and to provide you, our dear readers our own, independent insights about the entries.
In all honesty, we didn’t expect much from ‘PAGPAG,’ a Star Cinema and Regal Films production, which stars the hottest love team of today, Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo better known as KathNiel with support cast that include Dominic Roque, Miles Ocampo, Matet De Leon, Shaina Magdayao and Paulo Avelino.
It turned out to be a good horror flick, better than the previous entries from Regal Films and even from Star Cinema. As a matter of fact, it did surpass our expectations.
While a unique film, strange to the local viewers may solicit ‘wows’ from the Filipino movie goers, a film that tackles a familiar subject matter, if executed well, could actually turn out better — that’s where PAGPAG’s strengths lie. It tackles the very familiar theme of superstitious beliefs about deaths and wakes, things that are believed by our forefathers long ago but still raise questions from many of us today. Added with a youthful flavor and its stars’ chemistry, a lot of shocking scenes, characters’ conflicts plus a good twist, PAGPAG successfully got our nods.
It is hard to point out all the strengths and the weaknesses of the film, yet, we’ll try to name the obvious for your reference.
Not to mention the lead characters’ chemistry for that’s been tried and tested, the two are a strong force of the film. Aside from the fact that they are the very soul of the film as well, these teen stars are actually now better actors.
Padilla, with due respect to his onscreen ‘angas’ and charisma can actually make the people stick till the end of the film by merely portraying the role. His comedic timing is perfect and he delivers his lines, almost naturally. Though his role here isn’t challenging enough for a best actor trophy, Padilla did good as an actor.
Bernardo on the other hand is not just a pretty face. The lady could act, that’s tried and tested as well. Just that in PAGPAG, they did not provide her a wider stage to showcase her brilliance as an artist, not just as the film’s lead character. Her role is almost synonymous to the roles she has done before. But for a lead actress in her own film in a very popular festival, Bernardo did great, enough to be considered a Best Actress contender. But with the very limiting character and up and against a veteran Eugene Domingo among others, I’m not sure she’d snatch it this year. To be noticed, though, would be enough for a super star in the making. I supposed.
From the supporting cast, it is easy to pen point who shone the brightest. Avelino has his shining moments. In this film, Avelino is not your usual pretty boy but a monster that’s scarier when in his natural aura than when wearing prosthetics. Another Best Supporting actor trophy seems underway for Avelino. We wouldn’t be surprised if he gets it.
And no matter how much we tried not to notice physical beauty in the film that horrifies people, we can not help but notice Dominic Roque – enough reason for teens to spend a dime for PAGPAG. He has done lead roles in the past for a TV series and some shows, yeah, but Roque here showcases his aura that’s of a leading man material. Hopefully not for a horror film next time. Roque’s shower scene is an eye candy. You’d want him to save from a possible death. Yeah. We heard the ladies inside the cinema wished that. So believe me.
Shaina Magdayao and Matet De Leon did perform well also. Best Supporting actress nominations for these is not enough.
To say PAGPAG has a perfect cast may sound OA but the whole cast did pass our standard with flying colors. Not much overacting.
Make up is good. Production design is good. I do not adore much its cinematography but I loved a lot of shots, especially the from-inside-the-coffin shots and the aerial ones towards the end featuring KathNiel.
The film could be faulted though for some minor details. One of which is the use of the Holy Water bottle for two separate occasions with a cap still intact, and the contents remained almost the same. Maybe that’s forgivable.
The use of comedy and family drama in PAGPAG makes it not only more relatable but also more engaging. And there comes the real strength of PAGPAG – it engages people. If only it was polished better or given additional twists, PAGPAG would be a film to beat this year. Nevertheless, by the look of it and considering this year’s list of entries, PAGPAG would get a spot on the MMFF top four films in terms of value.
Note: Will update later.
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Ely Valendez is an award-winning blogger-journalist based in the Philippines. He handles several social media marketing projects for various brands in his home country as well as for a US-based IT/e-commerce company, PCM where he works full time. He uses his spare time doing financial consultancy for a UK-based company. He also sits as member of the Board of Directors of the Philippines Communication Society and serves as a web manager and resource person of the Philippine Press Institute.
December 26, 2013
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