Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pretty Monster (Insights from Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang)

Probable spoilers ahead.

Movie bit:

In the movie's final moments while Corazon (Erich Gonzales) and Daniel (Derek Ramsay)  are being hunted by the village people, Daniel pitched a picked up line to Corazon:

Aswang ka ba?
Kasi ibibigay ko ang lahat ng laman loob ko lalu na ang puso ko para lang sa yo.

We'll not those exact words but something similar. Something like "I'll go to hell as long as I'm with you".

Personal bit:

It's been a long time since I last watch a local movie in a cinema. The later ones I remember were the Bong Revilla fantasy movie Exodus (which I kind of liked because it brings some elements of Peque Gallaga's "Magic Temple" which I really liked) and Resiklo (which makes you think Matrix Revolutions and some other post-apocalyptic/alien invasion film)

Movie notes:

I loved the cinematography. It perfectly captured the barrio scenery with it's sepia tones and earth hues.
I think Erich looks very pretty in the movie even as an aswang.
Mon Confiado, the best supporting actor ever, did great as expected. So did Epy Quizon and of course Kuya Bodjie.

Storywise, I think it is good. I always loved origin stories and alternate history telling and the movie did a great job of presenting an alternate take on the aswang as a folktale creature.

The movie also presented some very interesting takes on the psychology of human beings. The idea of the mother eating her dead child is downright creepy and disturbing on many levels. I think if the movie gives more emphasis on that concept, it would make a very scary film. The build up scene where Corazon cradles the dead baby, up to her eating the dead child's flesh is very, very haunting and amazingly done.

Another nice concept introduced was the idea that the monsters are created by the society as a response to a very agitating event such as a war, as in the movie's case. There is an article I read where it noted the fact that ghosts are  not people who lived their lives safely and very ordinary but those who lived their lives too much that their border between life and death is broken or became unclear. Which supports the movie's point that the monsters are a result of some bad circumstances.

It's also nice to see that the movie's mythology is pretty much head on with the real local mythology (at least the one I heard). The aswang's transformation to a wildboard is something which came out from my childhood. It's crawling motion as it approaches it's prey is one  that I almost exactly see in my mind whenever I hear those stories as a child.

I just feel like it was one or two side stories too much that it kind of feels like all over the place. Matias' (Mark Gil) tyrant hacendero arc could have been made simpler or more molded with Corazon's story etc. But it's just a minor gripe. I think the movie is well made, the actors performed well and it has a nice narrative and interesting concepts. Whatever minor complaint with the film, I think you should put aside as this movie seems very well-thought of and nicely executed, I won't have second thoughts of watching another movie of this calibre.


If you're a fan of Erich Gonzales, definitely watch it, because she's just so pretty in this movie.
I you like horror movies, I think you should also take a look. Be warned that this is not your typical scare-you-off-your-seat movie (the supposedly scary parts only come late into the movie, and they are not that scary too.)
If you like Philippine movies, you should also watch this. The cinematic experience itself is worth the price of the ticket.

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