Marvin savors his independence in a newly acquired unit of an old apartment building. He is frequently visited by his girlfriend Pinky. Except for the occasional noise from an apartment ... See full summary »
Marvin savors his independence in a newly acquired unit of an old apartment building. He is frequently visited by his girlfriend Pinky. Except for the occasional noise from an apartment unit down the hallway, the place is almost perfect for Marvin. At the end of the hallway is where Anna lives with her young daughter Lara, and Bert, her jealous husband. Bert is a cop, and he has always suspected Anna of two-timing him. His frequent jealous outbursts would always lead to beatings that could be heard throughout the whole floor. Marvin would usually be awakened at night by the sound of screaming and beating from Anna's unit. Marvin complains to the building caretaker, a drunk, who would just tell him to ignore the disturbance from the apartment down the hall. Anna and her daughter would usually ask for help from Jude, who lives in an apartment unit in the middle of the hallway. Jude's apartment becomes a temporary refuge for the little girl Lara. One day, Pinky drops by Marvin's ... Written by
Great cinematography, strong acting and script, and a very subtle horror.
During the opening scenes the dark, decrepit apartment block provided plenty of claustrophobia and paranoia and set me at unease before the titles had even finished.
The story is a strong and very visual one, and at times does seem to borrow from Asian horror, a fact that Laranas disputes in the audio commentary, but it never feels wrong. The characters are quite identifiable, even from such a different culture, and the actors are surprisingly good. They have their moments though, and the beautiful Locsinplays a few moments awkwardly, while Gutierrez has a few lines where his dialogue feels wrong for his character. The other male leads Yllana and Blanco provide very convincing performances, and as for Calzado, well she has some truly terrifying moments.
Calzado and Yllana manage to give such a believable performance as the abused wife and abusing husband respectively. This is done with suggestion and intent, and no actual violence. It's the looks in their faces and their utterly convincing tone that captures this, and I suspect that many will find these scenes very uncomfortable without them actually having any violence. This shows the strength of the script and Director.
By far the creepiest moments are with the child . When the apartment door opens without warning it's enough to scare you, but when the child runs in and hides under the bed, and with a blood red face, I admit Laranas had me freaked out. This feeling is reinforced when it occurs again and there is no child, just the camera hinting at the movements of someone. An excellent method of building unease in the audience.
Laranas knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to horror, the scares, screams and tension building is done very well, and even without the child moments there are some very scary moments...The scenes in the cinema and the toilet cubicle are superbly filmed. There's great use of the camera throughout, and the understanding that less actually more and subtlety is a wonderful trait.
The cinematography and sound are very strong aspects of the movie, perhaps the strongest, and there are some superbly visualised and filmed scenes. The sound effects and score are very complimentary to the movie and provide for excellent tension building.
However all is not great, there is a short section of the film where the characters leave the confines of the buildings that they inhabit, both home and work, and this feels slightly out of place in the movie. Suddenly the world is opened up and it feels as though they could just leave and the tension is temporarily halted. As soon as they return to the confines of the apartment though, the tension returns and builds back.
The story builds to good climax, where you genuinely are unsure what's about to happen. Indeed I wasn't sure as the final scenes played out, and I was quite surprised at the ending.
Picture: 1.85:1 Unfortunately this is the failing of the DVD. The picture is extremely harsh in white balance, bright areas very over exposed and at times far too bright, with dark areas being very dark, but not overly. It gives a good feeling for most of the movie but there are some scenes where it's very distracting.
At first I thought this was down to the style of filming, and I found it was starting to annoy me more and more, however when I watched the trailers in the Extras afterwards I discovered that it wasn't the filming, it was the picture on the DVD. Since then I've read another review that says this very same thing. The picture on the DVD heavily let's the movie down, and that's indeed a shame.
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 \ 2.0 Subtitles: English The sound is one of the strongest features in this movie, with a good use made of the DD5.1 available to it. Effects happen around the scene, and it's not overly used so you're hearing sounds all around you, but it is used enough to provide depth to the scenes.
The score stands out and is a major contribution to the tension of the movie. It's very haunting and keeps itself in the background, slowly building and gently tapping at your shoulder. During key scenes it provides the weight to let you know the seriousness of the moment, but it never overpowers the movie.
Extras: Commentary, Behind the Scenes Featurette and Trailers Laranas is perhaps being one of the most mellow Directors I've ever heard. However he provides some good insight to the movie, the actors and some of the problems they faced. I actually found I enjoyed watching the movie a second time with his commentary, and it felt like it added more to the experience.
The Featurette provides direct footage of some of the scenes being filmed, but with no commentary it's not very interesting.
I was slightly disappointed that the trailers didn't carry subtitles. There are a number of trailers for other movies alongside all the trailers for Sigaw, and it is here that you see the picture was not filmed with this harsh contrast.
Overall This is a simple, and very effective story made so by excellent film making techniques in editing, cinematography and sound. This combination is what makes the movie effective in tension building and scare delivery. It's almost a traditional horror, a scary movie without the slasher and special effects that have been employed in the modern horror film.
The acting is strong, and provided a surprise for me in the quality of talent available to the Philippines. There are some weak moments, but nothing that distracts from the story which is kept going at an ever increasing pace.
This is a scary movie with some excellently filmed moments and superb soundtrack that will keep you tense and jumpy. A very enjoyable horror showing subtlety over slashing.
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