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After twenty years, local police captures the murderer of the older brother of a young boy. Now a doctor, he must go back to his old town and face the murderers himself. He then discovers that the murderers are Aswangs (folkloric Filipino vampire-like creatures) and they pose a deadly threat not only to him but also for the entire town. Written by
According to press releases for this movie, Patient X shows us director Yam Laranas' take on the Aswang folklore (an Aswang is a vampire-like creature of Philippine folklore), and puts it in the storyline that asks "What if we ever caught one of these aswangs?" The movie does show that, but it quickly becomes this survival horror about a group of people stuck inside a rural hospital that is being attacked by a group of aswangs.
PATIENT X is a movie that many Pinoy horror audiences will definitely enjoy. Preferably for the same audiences that had made movies like Feng Shui or the Shake Rattle & Roll movies a hit at the Philippine box office. Because Patient X does provide the jumps, the scares, and the monsters, all enough to make its mainstream audiences scream. It is the kind of movie that will preferably be enjoyed by a large mainstream crowd (preferably not film critics) who just want to have a good time, brains left outside the theater doors preferably.
Now that is the extent of what little praise I have for the movie. I am really sorry to say this because I am a fan of his works, but Patient X is probably Yam Laranas' weakest movie. The movie has a good premise to begin with. The idea of an aswang held in captivity is something that can create a far more interesting film than what was made. The story never does a good job in covering its loopholes. For instance; none of the characters seem to think of using their cellphones or their mobile radio communicators to call for outside help. This error just makes the film's characters look like idiots. The policemen in the movie felt like cardboard horror victims, their characters are almost too cartoonish. It's like they all wore a bright yellow t-shirt that says "filler character" or "victim no.1". The flow of the film is oozing with predictability. One could even easily guess the sequence of who dies first and who survives at the end.
I feel that the monster design on the aswangs looked awkwardly-placed. It was as if they just came off a Halloween Party, what with faces too white and outlandish. Sure their make-up was intricate, but there were moments that they looked silly. It was also a bit inconsistent that at an earlier scene the aswangs could talk to each other coherently, and the next scene, they appear and act orc-ish (communicating in growls and snarls and acting animalistic. Even though one could justify that they were in their "aswang mode" it still felt so inconsistent with their earlier scenes. As if they were taking on a completely different character all of a sudden). But this is just a very minor factor, because what really made a difference in the movie was Richard Guttierez's acting, which is really unbearably bad.
I felt that it really is unfortunate that Guttierez plays the lead role in this movie. No matter how many times he's had movie and TV appearances, it seems to never have any progressive effect on his acting. His performance looks like it is only equivalent to some high school actor in a classroom play. In some scenes he looks like he's too conscious of how he looks, and in most of the scenes, I feel like the director should inject him with some heavy narcotics just to get him to do some real acting. Somebody better either get him into some military-type acting workshop or get him into substance abuse. But then again, some people are just born to be really bad actors.
Despite these bad factors that plague Patient X (pun intended), the film does have its great points. A Yam Laranas film always looks great. His direction makes sure that the cinematography is outstanding. As harsh as my review seems to be, I still urge true lovers of cinema to watch this because of how Laranas executes beautiful lighting and stylish scenes. His use of the lightning effects on some characters, the use of shadows and darkness in a scene, the blurry silhouettes that gives way to creeping anticipations. These are things that make Patient X worthwhile to watch despite its flaws. I also love the concept of how the aswangs hold their victims using their mouth, as if how a wolf carries around their victims: held tightly in their mouth.
Critiquing Laranas is not a simple task because his skill has already gone beyond just local filmmaker borders. Laranas is to be judged alongside international mainstream-friendly directors, like Paul Anderson (Event Horizon, Resident Evil), James Wan (Saw, Death Sentence), and even Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Drag Me to Hell). You just can't compare Laranas' works to the typical Philippine mainstream films. Patient X is not a movie that I liked. But at least in comparison, this was a great, spectacular horror movie compared to what is usually released by the mainstream local film industry. As I have said earlier, this is a film recommended for mainstream audiences, preferably in large crowds. If you and your friends are out to watch a movie where you can just scream or maybe laugh at, this is for you.
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