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As the film begins, we see Owen (Rico Blanco) and Mariella (Angelica Panganiban) are fighting in a car by a lake. It appears that Owen has left his wife to be with Mariella, and is angry that Mariella is not willing to make the same sacrifice. The fight turns violent, and Owen has hit Mariella through the car window. Mariella tries to escape from the car, and the scene cuts to flashback.We see Mariella telling her husband, Ivan (Dingdong Dantes), that her best friend, Samantha needs company and she drives off into the night. Later that evening, their daughter Angel (Sofia Villarama) comes to Ivan looking for her mother, and Ivan tells Angel that her mother has gone away. There is a car that passes by in the area where a bloody Mariella is looking for help, in the middle of a rainstorm. The driver and his passenger are singing Christmas carols in the car, Mariella knows she is dead. Written by
Kris Aquino fared better with SUKOB; Garcia and Panganiban steal the film from her
SEGUNDA MANO is Joyce Bernal's first serious foray into the horror genre (there was an attempt in 2005, D'ANOTHERS, but in comedy form, supplied by lead star Vhong Navarro), after some 20-odd films (mostly a bevy of rom-coms and saccharine love stories), and comes up with serviceable chills and thrills. Kris Aquino stars as a mousy, frumpy antiques store owner living in the shadow of her sister's death by drowning. Her distraught mother (Helen Gamboa, underplaying) cannot move on, and Kris has devoted her life to taking care of the old lady and the antiques store. Thrown into this hapless equation is a charming stranger (Dingdong Dantes), who is supposedly reeling from the "disappearance" of his wife (Angelica Panganiban) some years ago... He has a petulant kid (Sofia Millares) who doesn't like Kris. As Kris accepts the engagement ring from Dingdong, a ghostly presence begins revealing itself to her... does this ghost mean harm? Or does this ghost have a message from beyond the grave, for Kris? From a story by Joel Mercado, Bernal draws sedate performances from Aquino and Gamboa, and a properly sinister portrayal from the unbalanced Dantes. For a while, I was reminded of the Rory Quintos-crafted thriller, SA AKING MGA KAMAY (1996), where Aga Muhlach portrayed a man who has a deep-seated hatred and aversion to women... Dantes' role is much the same, and where his brooding look rendered his performances hammy in films like ETERNITY (2006), RESIKLO (2007), and YOU TO ME ARE EVERYTHING (2010), it serves him well here -- he won the MMFF Best Actor award (with much controversy, owing to Kris' overzealous public lobbying). Panganiban, as the mystery ghost, scores, and Bangs Garcia as the bosom buddy of Aquino, with her rapid-fire wisecracks and physical comedy, almost steals the film from Aquino. The premise, earthly possessions of murdered people falling into the hands of innocent people, has been done already (MATAKOT KA SA KARMA, WHITE LADY, etc.) but Bernal manages to add some human dimension to what would otherwise be a screamfest full of clichés. The recrimination-and-forgiveness scenes between Aquino and Gamboa gives goosebumps as much as the ghostly attacks. Aquino's thespic talents have improved slightly from her massacre movies of yore and last year's DALAW, and you can bet your grandmother's peineta she will have a horror film for December 2012 yet again. In a nutshell, SEGUNDA MANO fares better than most films of its ilk.
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