With the rival station Philippine Broadcasting Channel (PBC) eating up the TV audiences' major share... See full synopsis »

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A Jumbled Mess
7 November 2013 | by (Quezon City, Philippines) – See all my reviews

A Brilliante Mendoza movie is an awaited event among Filipino cinephiles. After all, he is the only Filipino film director who had won a Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Admittedly though, his films (like "Serbis" or "Kinatay") are not really the easiest ones to understand or like for the casual movie fan. His last film "Thy Womb" (starring Ms. Nora Aunor) seems to bridge that gap, arty and award-winning, yet still relatively commercially appealing.

It is interesting then to see this current film "Sapi" to see if he will create a film that will bring him into the mainstream consciousness. A good horror film is usually a crowd-pleaser. Unfortunately, it went the opposite way from that. In fact, even Mendoza's most ardent fans will most probably hate this one for various reasons.

Meryll, an SBN producer and her reporter Dennis air a feature about a demonic possession. Problem is that this sensational footage had been surreptitiously bought from the rival PBC cameraman Baron. Aside from professional sanctions following this serious infraction, Meryll, Dennis and Baron all begin to be tormented by ghostly visions and events. Or do they?

OK, we cannot expect the story of a Brilliante Mendoza film to be told plainly. Yet artistic it may be, the film still needs to tell its story. The main story about the stealing of footage is so unimaginatively told. There was absolutely no way Meryll et al. could have gotten away with it, and they do not even try.

Also, how come so many scenes in this film happen without any seeming logical reason. What was the point of that whole scene in the carinderia? Just to have a Mercedes Cabral cameo? What was the point of showing Dennis cruising the street for a hooker? Because a Mendoza film is incomplete without a gratuitous sex scene?

The last hour was a blur of terrible supernatural events which seem to be happening to the guilty trio. Yet in the next scenes, confusingly, as if nothing had happened at all, and everyone was A-OK. Here, Mendoza shows a considerably bigger and more horrifying creature coming out a vulva (shades of the controversial graphic birth scene in "Thy Womb"). But in the next scene, everything seemed business as usual, everything forgotten. Truth to tell, these "horror" scenes are not really scary at all, recurrent thunderbolts of lightning notwithstanding.

So, it does not really succeed as a horror film. The social commentary parts about the media war, or even about the garbage and the flooding, were shallow at best. The artistic considerations are not really so admirable as well. The camera was very shaky (though thankfully not as dizzying as "Captive"). The colors were pale and washed out, since majority of the film occur in the rain or in the dark. The acting of the cast is compromised by the inexplicable things their characters were made to do. The editing is a jumbled mess of non-sequitur scenes.

I guess there nothing really much that I liked about this film. But I will still look forward to the next Brillante Mendoza film though. 2/10.


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