Kris Aquino’s latest Tweet reads: “Good morning! Dalaw January 5 (Day12). Total Gross to Date (12 days): P90,357,820.44. Thank you God! Thank you moviegoers! Still showing in more than 100 theaters!” The number of exclamation point is good news to one of the movie’s executive producer, Kristina Bernadette Aquino. Yes. Kris stars in a film she herself produced. (Click here to validate her box-office gross campaign. But then let us just take her word for it.) Starring in a couple horror blockbusters, it is a no-brainer that this is her genre of choice as a first-time producer. Tampering something the masses have been lapping up several times over is not a good idea. Fixing something that isn’t broken is bad business. This film looks like Feng Shui. Feels like Feng Shui. So it must be just as entertaining as Feng Shui. Not. It is entertaining but for an altogether different reason.
Need to ‘fess up something: I lost my peacock earrings last night from laughing too hard watching this supposed horror flick. The operative term is “supposed” because I kept thinking, “I thought this one is supposed to be scary.” Apologies are in order because I thought Shake Rattle Roll (SRR) will continue its this-is-a-comic-movie-and-not-the-horror-franchise-before. Regal should thank the third episode for saving from total disaster. Thus I bestow the recognition of Funniest Non-Comedic Movie of the Film Fest to Dalaw. (I love that earring but I still laughed even after I found out that I lost it.) No wonder this blogger said, “So if you’re planning to watch Dalaw, save your time and money and buy Andok’s instead.” In the age of Chooks to Go, she had to use Andok’s as a better alternative for the latest Kris Aquino opus.
For the just plan curious, the movie revolves around the disastrous marriage of Stella (Aquino) and Anton (Diether Ocampo and a just-his-back-cameo appearance of James Yap). Sowing fear and havoc in their lives is a ghost cover in mud (No sh*t.) Their misfortune began during their wedding when Anton’s mother Milagros (Susan Africa) had a stroke in the middle of the ceremonies. This prompted her to trade her spacious home for an old eerie one to take care of her mother-in-law. Helping her in the household chores is an eerier neighbor named Olga (Gina Pareno) who claims to see ghosts through her damaged eye. (Stay with me.) The creep factor swelled when the ghost keeps getting more violent. Stella thought it was her dead first husband who has a domestic abuse record that is doing all the paranormal crap. (You know I am nearing the drone-zone when I describe ghost attacks as paranormal crap. Here goes.) To cut the crap, a lot of people died; the not so twisted twist was revealed; and Stella and her nemesis ghost went mano-a-mano. The end or as Kris delivered her line (something to this effect), “Anton! Tapos na. Hindi na niya tayo guguluhin!” Thank goodness! The film has ended.
I am quite hard to scare but I appreciate horror movies. I think people need a good scare on a regular basis because it keeps them in on their toes (and it’s such a gas to see scared faces). However, this film does not fall under good scare. Good laughs or it’s-bad-it’s-good entertainment. Still, this did not deter me from getting bothered. One characteristic of a good or passable horror flick is if it bothers the audience. But like its entertainment value, Dalaw bothered me for (not wrong) different reasons.
1. I am bothered because the concept of dalaw is not utilized to its fullest potential. Instead, it hinged on a boring surprise. Aquino starred in Sukob, a good albeit a bit dragging movie that put a twist on our superstitious belief that sibling should not wed in the same year or something as bad as death happens. (Plus Maja Salvador is part of the cast. She uplifts a scenes and makes life better.) This Star Cinema-Cinemedia-MJM collaboration did not provide much details on the reason and resolution to unwanted ghostly visits. In hindsight, please tell me MJM is not a smart-a** invention to sound a lot like MGM.
2. I am bothered because this is another MMFF competing movie that tried to use the PSSSB formula. PSSSB stands for Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara, the classic movie that prompted Quark Henares to include it in his top ten Filipino horror films of all time even if has not seen it just because “readers will react violently if they don’t see this on the list!” The PSSSB drill is familiar: avenging ghosts returns from hell to deliver his brand of justice to people that mistreated his life. See the first episode of SRR XII. Haunted doll?! PSSSB is like been there, done that. In Dalaw, the ghost is a jealous lover. Jealous lover?! PSSSB is like been there, done that.
3. I am bothered because I do not understand the character of great Gina Pareno. Is she a comic relief? Is she some sort of a dalaw expert that holds the answers to all of Stella’s questions (She carries an old book that contains procedure for resolving that sort of problem.)? Is she such a professional actress that she delivered those lines with a straight face? Is she the local version of Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody character of the Harry Potter novels? Ms. Pareno should have been awarded with the heftiest paycheck after letting her go through such suffering. Still love her.
4. I am bothered because the character of Diether Ocampo reminds me so much of James Yap. Not the face but the characterization. Is it just me or are those potshots against the basketball superstar? An almost spineless husband who is not proficient in English and earns less than her better-educated wife. The tabloids have been painting him as such ever since she married the Queen of All-media. All-media? Take that Oprah.
5. I am bothered because the contortions I mean emotions of Kris is so consistent. Consistent is good but not all the time. This is one of those times.
But I am not bothered that the audience reacted with laughters instead of scream. That I guess is the most appropriate feedback. Harsh but true.