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Two best friends see their trip of a lifetime take a dark turn when one of them is struck by a mysterious affliction. Now, in a foreign land, they race to uncover the source before it consumes him completely.
Familiarity with other Filipino dialects could be advantageous for critics because it helps in gauging the film's sincerity and thoroughness. My father is from Negros Occidental and I understand fully the language used in Yanggaw even without the subtitles. Unfortunately, the soft-spoken quality of my fellow Ilonggos has been made into a spectacle of hilarity. It must be a horror film but it appears to be some sort of comedy of inelegance. Ilonggo dialect was skewed into evoking laughter.
Yanggaw is a horror film written and directed by Richard Somes. Even the names of the character are a takeoff to names of endearment by Ilonggos such as Toto and Inday. Even garbling the names upon dictation has crazed the audience who are watching it (most of them are Ilonggos). They are chuckling at how spontaneous the actors are (which I feel that most of the lines are adlib). They could have been so at ease with their mother dialect and that the essence of creating a horror atmosphere obnubilated by the inept script. Of course it is admirable to express amusement with how we relate to the rich language of Hiligaynon. It's just disappointing because I understand it very well and it sounds like an honest mistake really.
I too have been infected with the rapid amusement the audience has shown. But certainly, I have opposing insights with how the film rates in terms of horror. Yanggaw in Ilonggo is translated as 'infection'. In the rural town, Junior (Ronnie Lazaro) lives with his wife Inday (Tetchie Agbayani) together with their children. One day, their daughter Amor (Aleera Montalla) goes home with a sickness. She has been diagnosed by Lazarus (Erik Matti) that she has been infected with venom that goes through her ears. In a few days, Amor evolves into a monster commonly called 'aswang'.
Yanggaw is a mixture of horror and melodrama. The dramatic overtone in the film is protracted with the struggle of the family in protecting their keen that is now a monster. It's ironic in a way since the monster is now being protected from the villagers who try to get rid of it but natural familial reaction takes place. It's good in a way since the point of view is revolving on the dramatic event of the monster's own family. With obvious low cost production, Yanggaw was able to give an atmosphere that is quite creepy and to that, they are still on the right track. Even the story itself is about a monster eating the insides of animals and humans. But my concern is the dialect's intonation. The film could still be successful for the wrong motives. There is a laugh to ease the terror within the film. But the laugh we are indulging is because it looks comical. That is quite unintended.
Yanggaw has a fresh take on our local myths. Somes has achieved an atmosphere for such incredible tales of aswang. The aswang inspiration is attained even without hi-tech effects and that is totally delightful to see. Well known actors like Joel Torre as Dulpo is such a relief to see on screen even if he appears to be a bit funny. Even Tetchie Agbayani as Inday has delivered her acting again with much self-confidence. Yanggaw won the Audience Choice Award in this year's Cinema One Originals 2008 Festival. Ilonggo's are proud of the film obviously. But the use of the dialect is a major distraction to the aim of the film. I should be frightened and not something else.
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