Movie Review: The Healing

Doppelgangers are like paranormal evil doubles of living persons. The term in German means double walker. Some believes a person dies whenever he meets his doppelganger. I guess one dies from total shock if one encounters his self. There are a number of doppelganger stories in the Philippines as recounted during the popular run of True Philippine Ghost Stories series. In his latest film tackling the paranormal side of life, Chito Rono re-interprets the concept the doppelganger. The Healing is the gorier sister of Feng Shui. Do not be fooled by the film poster (not the most pleasing Star Cinema poster) nor the trailer because it is bloodier than one imagines. The Movie Television Review and Classification Board released two ratings for The Healing: R-13 and R-18. Choose the latter.

Seth (Vilma Santos) brought her father (Robert Arevalo) to a faith healer (Daria Ramirez) as an alternative cure to his lingering illness. After drinking the prescribed herbal tea, her father recovered. When word got out, her neighbors persuaded her to accompany them to the faith healer. His son Jed (Martin Del Rosario) also asked her to take his half-sister Cookie (Kim Chiu) who is suffering from a debilitating kidney disease. Like mass miracle, all of her neighbors and her stepdaughter were cured until Death claimed them in a most horrible manner.

Star Cinema seems bent on producing a hit horror film. Not only did they get the box-office tested services of Rono (Feng Shui, Sukob and T2) but also directors Richard Somes (Shake Rattle and Roll 13 and Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang) and Jerrold Tarog (Shake Rattle and Roll 12, 13 and Aswang) are part of the production team. That is like a horror film dream team. If there is a conscious effort to produce something big then one should look at the star – The Star for All Seasons. Vilma Santos is entering her fifth decade in the business and is marking it with a horror flick for – let us face it – the studio that revived her career.

I like The Healing then The Killing transformation. There is something insane in violently killing a person who recentlty underwent faith healing session because of its cruel twist of fate. You get healed by the graces of heaven then get killed by fires of hell. Insane.

I like the reason behind the cursed deaths. Not to spoil things up but it is an interpretation of the concept of violating the laws of nature. Nature corrects herself once her iron-clad rules are broken.

I like the gore. I smiled throughout the blood and entrails. Gore is not frequent in local films, so nice seeing one for change. The horrific deaths of the supporting characters are terrific. Stand-outs are Pokwang and Ynez Veneracion.

I am not fond of the ending because it dragged on a bit.

I am not fond of the strange color scheme. You are going to notice it as the film progresses.

I am not fond of the villain. First off, the wig is distracting, people laughed last night. Second, there is an attempt at a Hannibal Lecter-Clarice Starling like encounter that did not work. You learn details here and there, in the aforementioned scene but the oh-sh*t-hell-is-about-to-break-loose feeling never came.

I still think it is an uneven film. Some parts are good some are not. The actors acquitted themselves including Martin Del Rosario (even if he tends to use big hand gestures sometimes) who had to share most of his screen time with a cinema icon. Ditto for Kim. And Robert Arevalo should be credited for providing comic relief. The frequent killings is unnerving at times, a little laughter is most welcome.

I still think Chito Rono is a master in creating horrific concepts out of non-horrific stuff, e.g. luck in Feng Shui, marriage in Sukob and faith healing in his latest film. Fen Shui is the better because it is more focused, and despite the derivative ending, more solid.

I still think there is an inside joke in the color scheme thing so please let us in.

Damn. I changed the rating thrice before settling for a B. The Healing is solid entertainment but the question remains: will it stand the test of time? I guess not. One last thing: I predict one local entertainment columnist will find the violence disconcerting and numbing. He made the same comments for Feng Shui. In Rono’s next horror flick Sukob, the dead people vanishes. No trace of blood. No trace of struggle. I do not think it is a coincidence. “No dead bodies here so nitpick on some other stuff b*tches.” I love it.


MOVIE TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9FSaIzNvnc

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42 Responses to “Movie Review: The Healing”

  1. 1 jc santos
    07/26/2012 at 5:43 pm

    Kindly check naman your sentence constructions. Second paragraph pa lang may grammatical error kaagad-agad. Minention mo pang Seth is Vilma Santos tapos sasabihin mong Seth brought HIS father (Robert Arevalo) to a faith healer. Ano ba yan? Napaka basic na English!

    • 07/26/2012 at 5:48 pm

      Pasensya na po tao lang. Nagkakamali. Oo nga pala, nakalimutan mo iyong hyphen between “napaka” and “basic.”

      • 3 Jeffrey Jocson
        07/27/2012 at 1:34 pm

        I suggest you read the review of Philbert Ortiz Dy so that you can get a quick lesson on how to write a good movie review. You can not say “tao lang po” when someone calls your attention on your grammatical errors which are really actual errors and not typo errors. Better yet, Tagalugin mo na lang kasi hindi ka comfortable at adept sa English language.

      • 07/27/2012 at 1:48 pm

        I simply like writing about the films I watch. I regularly read Mr. Dy’s reviews and he is a terrific film critic.

        Now, I usually don’t make excuses but can you please give me a break? (And you can check out all the comments in my blog and THAT was the first comment I received pointing out a grammatical mistake.) Yes, I committed a grammatical error, so what? And who hasn’t?

        People, relax.

    • 5 armanddc
      07/26/2012 at 9:17 pm

      The author is generous enough to share her thoughts. It’s a brave act, especially there are haters (you aren’t necessarily belonging to this category) and other critics whose concerns will be utterly unwanted: to criticize the author’s writing and not talk about the movie itself anymore.

      I also feel such agony, to see “grammatical errors”, as you call them. I personally think however that this is a good thing–our author right here is imperfect. And therefore she is human. Her thoughts are warranted, she has feelings and likes and amazement that are “human”.

      If you can’t take the author’s writing, might as well write yours yourself. It’s not going to hurt, all you need to do is to take your hand swung in front of you and let your fingertips to do typing–that is, if you know grammar (which obviously you know very well) and how to critique a movie.

      If I were to scrutinize your thoughts, the same thing that you did to the author, I’d grade your comment a whopping C.

  2. 07/27/2012 at 5:33 pm

    I think it’s a bit shallow for someone to just comment on little mistakes committed by the author rather than commenting on the THOUGHT of the post. That’s what really counts right? However, believe me when I say I respect their opinion even if they don’t seem to respect that of the author. I just hope people would comment on stuff that matters rather bitching out just for the heck of it.

    To suggest that the author should rather express in Tagalog employs a low level of maturity. You should have read her previous posts to know that her writing is at par with pros, considering that English is not her first language. She has her reasons for using the English language; personal comfortability, wider coverage of readers (which means access for non-Filipino readers), possible profitability through ads and stuff, and who knows what else.

    I’ve been reading her reviews and hers is by far the most uniquely personal, engaging and honest to goodness reviews at least in the country. Most of them I can relate to, some of them I disagree but I respect that we have our own biases so everyone is allowed including the author to express her dislike on things that may have been liked by the bandwagon.

    And yeah, people, relax! :-)

  3. 07/27/2012 at 9:38 pm

    Forget the assoholic rants those two stupid wannabes mentioned. We can get away with the every now and then mistyped words. But an attitude of a loser – never. Keep on writing. Keep on rocking. And to those to morons who dared mention the inappropriate pronoun his – you can go suck a big one.

  4. 11 petra
    07/27/2012 at 10:23 pm

    how is the box office??? kumikita ba??????????????

  5. 13 r
    07/28/2012 at 2:50 am

    Give her a break, personal blog naman niya ito. No one is perfect pagdating sa writing, very normal naman po ang mga errors.Writing is a progressive process. If constructive naman po ang intention niyo pagdating sa grammar at spelling, no need to attack the author, just say it nicely :)

  6. 15 deng tan
    07/29/2012 at 1:58 am

    Agree with the review. Disturbing, unnerving, original, unexpectedly gory. Honestly, there were times that I did not want see what’s going on. Was also at the edge of my seat and clung to my boyfriend most of the time, sometimes peeked through my fingers since the anticipation of what I might see is too much. And I must say, I am not the type of person who gets scared easily. So props to everyone who took part in making that film, it was truly an effective horror movie. The last part was a bit dragging and a certain scene unconvincing, electrocuted ghosts. But was worth my money still. On a side note, what’s with the color theme in scenes?

  7. 17 mike
    07/29/2012 at 5:46 pm

    Were you able to watch both the R13 and R18 version of the film?if yes kindly share naman po ung difference.im from pampanga.unfortunately lahat ng the healing na pinalabas dito is R13.thanks!

    • 07/30/2012 at 10:40 am

      This review is for the R-13. Sa Trinoma kasi isang sobrang late na ang R-18. Around quarter to 11 ng gabi. Will try to watch. Thank you for visiting my blogsite.

    • 21 lEAN
      09/07/2012 at 6:56 pm


  8. 22 Jay
    07/29/2012 at 11:35 pm

    Iyong napansin mo, actually napansin din namin. the color scheme. pero, we interpret it as a political thing. very subliminal. especially sa isang scene na naka _____ lahat :)

    • 07/30/2012 at 10:43 am

      Uy. Ayos ah. Hindi ko naisip na political. Hehe :)

      • 08/22/2012 at 2:13 am

        Nung una, ganon den naisep ko na political thing yon… pero baket the first part was blue. Everyone was wearing blue clothes, the exteriors are in blue too. The death scenes were in red. Red clothes, red walls, etc. Lastly, yellow color for the climax.

  9. 25 mary
    07/30/2012 at 9:33 pm

    How was the Box office result? In SM Iloilo City… walang pila.. more on Batman…ask the cashier… kunti lang daw ang nanonood…

    • 07/31/2012 at 12:35 pm

      Next week po, I will check Box Office Mojo. Their data is still not updated. Thank you!

    • 27 Jason
      08/06/2012 at 2:07 pm

      Well, the movie is now on its 100million mark and will still increase on the next 2 weeks plus the international screenings pa. So yung hater dyan na wala raw pila sa Ilo-ilo. Isipin mo kasi ang lugar mo. Ang pinag uusapan dito ay ang total gross. So pahiya ka no?

  10. 28 ex-biologist
    07/31/2012 at 12:03 am

    Hi Jowana, congrats to your blog and movie criticism.Continue to write more. Don’t let anyone say nothing about it. Just write! :)

    Here’s my say: I’ve seen the film. it was good.
    Roy Iglesias did a good screenplay here. Bravo to the traditional screenplay writing. Very literary and creative.
    Chito Roño deserves the movie rating “A”. I hope more movies like this grace the Philippine Cinemas. (Batman is good also, but I encourage our Filipino people to watch Filipino movies).

    Here are some filmography techniques used in the movie (to deepen the audience’s understanding).
    *Color scheme – it is employment of a “leitmotif”: a recurring event, image, object or character in a story, poem, film or play. Leitmotifs (or motifs) become significant to the meaning of the overall work when they develop thematic importance. In film, such a motif is most frequently a plot device, image, character trait, or element of the “mise en scène”. It is clearly here that Roño chooses a mise en scène as his poetic composition. Psychology states that colors can evoke meaning. The colors alerts the audience’s feelings subconsciously. The author/director uses psychological subliminal cues to “subconsciously” respond to the whole narrative. Thematically, the colors tell the movie story into 4 segments; White in the beginning to signify “divine” events like healing; Blue used during the “healing spree” signifying in many diverse cultures blue is significant in religious beliefs, brings peace, or is believed to keep the bad spirits away; Red was used when people starts to die one by one, signifying gore, blood, danger; then the last color is Yellow towards the end of the movie, signifying that the characters are constantly analyzing, looking at both sides before making a decision; methodical and decisive. This is when Seth (Vilma Santos) decides to confront the reality that is a “sumpa” (curse).
    *Magic Realism and Mystical Folklore – Describing events realistically, but in a “magical” haze of strange local customs and beliefs—particularly popular with Latin American authors. Roño used the folkloric beliefs endemic to Filipinos about curses, doppelgangers, faith healing and evil possessions.
    *Contextual Juxtaposition – Using two themes, characters, phrases, words, or situations together for comparison, contrast. In the movie, audience will at one point think that Lolo Odong (Robert Arevalo) will also be a victim of the curse, but in contrast to others which has been healed by Elsa (Daria Ramirez), he is not affected by the curse as per explanation towards the end by Melchor (Joel Torre).
    *Name Allusion- one might catch the name of the faith healer as “Elsa”. It may be a coincidence that the (screen)playwright chose the name Elsa but it does seem to be a spin-off from Nora Aunor’s faith healer character “Elsa” from the Bernal’s1981 movie “Himala”. Also, it is quick to quip that the title also comes so significantly similarity in context to Himala (Miracle) to Roño’s The Healing. This little detail can be considered a name allusion as a literary technique employed here.
    *Pastiche – Using forms and styles from another author, generally as an affectionate tribute. It can be seen in the movie that when the character become possessed by the evil doppelganger, that person adopts an “evil eye” which means his/her body is now taken over by the evil spirit. The possession part is similar to the American movie “The Shining” where the character gets possessed, descends into madness and then attempts to murder everyone in the hotel. Also, the HK movie, “The Eye” (2002) where a blind pianist upon receiving an eye donation suddenly sees ghosts.


  11. 30 Quadra
    07/31/2012 at 5:04 pm

    Gosh, next time put a spoiler alert. First sentence released all the excitement in my mind.

  12. 08/01/2012 at 1:28 pm

    Thanks Jowana for putting in your thoughts about this movie… ^_^

    as a fan of horror flicks, I agree with what u said: “I like the gore. I smiled throughout the blood and entrails. Gore is not frequent in local films, so nice seeing one for change. The horrific deaths of the supporting characters are terrific. Stand-outs are Pokwang and Ynez Veneracion.”

    That’s what I also noticed… When we watched the movie, I anticipated that it will just be a normal “gulatan” filipino film with a twist… But i was surprised with the Gore stuffs,…. It is not what u can frequently see in our Local films… Roño is brave enough to do that…Love it…

    and Honestly, I dont like Gore scenes (though I still watch it bec it’s what u can normally see on a foreign horror flick), but I appreciate what Roño did on this film…

    We watched the movie again last night and this time we watched the R18 version… G4 cinema 5 was Full, and the audience clapped their hands after the movie ^_^

    BTW, Tnx Ex-biologist for the interpretations of the color schemes and the other stuff, it’s so informative…

  13. 08/01/2012 at 1:43 pm

    and to add, my friend just told me that her interpretation naman on the color schemes was ….it represents the colors of the Philippine Flag… Well If I’m going to combine the interpretation of Ex-biologist and my friend… I think it was made that way so that Filipino viewers will think out of the box of what the colors really mean….since Vilma is known for having the color of her outfit patterned to her handkerchief and she is also a politician, then the Director set the colors of Philippine flag on the right scenes of the movie so that it will look like it has chapters…from White to Yellow ( as what Ex-biologist interpreted) … ^_^ Just my two cents, hehe

  14. 33 shara falceso
    08/02/2012 at 3:46 pm

    it’s good to read movie reviews like this one. Haven’t watched the movie yet, but don’t worry you didn’t spoil it. You’ve left something for my imagination ☺ (anyway I’m gonna watch it this Sunday).

    Oh, and by the way, don’t mind your haters. At least they’ve read your review :)) Just keep on writing (practice makes perfect right?). Good luck!

  15. 34 John Carter
    08/03/2012 at 3:51 pm

    thank jowana for the review. this affirmed how i looked at the healing. i love chito rono and his works of horror- esp fengshui. i love horror flicks but won’t dare watch fengshui alone at home. hehe. tnx also to ex-biologist for interpreting the techniques used in the movie tho i already had an idea that the color schemes used before the scenes were to prepare the viewers to the gore and further revelations or twists. how i wish that pinoy directors will be more daring in creating this kind of movie. actually, even without the gory scenes, one can still be terrified with just pure terror. tho i’m not a writer, i have ideas for horror stories i wish to be transformed into the big screen.

  16. 35 Aaron Kristoffer Doctora
    08/04/2012 at 1:00 pm

    That’s your opinion, In my opinion this movie is retard. I mean everyone just liked it because of the gory scene, the series of event happened so fast, they figured out whats the connection between the healing and the sequence of death but it took them forever to make the move to solve it. Also the characters are very unpractical if things like that happens tendency is that person should consult whoever is involve right? and I don’t like the being passive of the characters it’s just so stupid. It was so ironic that I watched it twice R-13 and R-18 but never enjoyed any. The only difference between the two is a ten second cut. The horrific death of the young girl and of Allan Paule although it was shown as well in R-13 there’s some details that were not included. I give it 1 6/10 :D

  17. 38 Jason
    08/06/2012 at 2:05 pm

    Well, the movie is now on its 100million mark and will still increase on the next weesks plus the international screenings pa. So yung hater dyan na wala raw pila sa Ilo-ilo. Isipin mo kasi ang lugar mo. Ang pinag uusapan dito ay ang total gross. So pahiya ka no?

  18. 39 Zhang
    08/12/2012 at 8:15 pm

    I saw the movie na..un R18 na version..i noticed nga un color scheme …and at the last part of the movie.. napossess din c martin del rosario..so does that mean na nagpahealing din xa after kim?and it was not answered in the fil kung bakit xa ngpahealing if ever he really did..

  19. 40 KJ
    09/28/2012 at 8:56 pm

    Haha. I read somewhere about the colour blue being related to Te Vilma’s Bear Brand endorsement. Then we saw the yellow colour scheme we thought, Nido lol. I guess Red represents Alaska. xDD

  20. 11/21/2012 at 3:44 pm

    I just watched it. Hmmm… so far so good naman sya.

  21. 11/26/2012 at 12:11 pm

    masyado naman OC sa grammar ‘yong iba. wala akong makitang mali sa :Seth is Vilma Santos…” then sa next paragraph “Seth brought…”. hanggang ngayon naman Seth is still Vilma Santos – a fact, kaya present tense. at hindi naman bawal na pagsamahin ang present tense at past tense sa iisang sentence or paragraph.

    and it’s rude to correct one’s grammar in public. anyone who does such is a “palalo.”

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