A battle of Superstars will happen as the 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival starts today at exactly 8am! But before you go and select the ones you will watch, here is my review on the MMFF underdog, "The Strangers". I was invited to attend the special screening of this movie at the Greenbelt Cinema 4. I arrived there and immediately noticed the very handsome Enchong Dee, after a brief introduction we entered the cinema and there I noticed that it is really a 'special screening', with only few people inside, I was told that they are family and friends from Enchong's circle as well as from his manager. Uber cutie Joseph Marco and business mogul Ben Chan were also present during the screening. Enchong and the producer made a little speech then the movie begun, with me being so much excited as I am one seat apart from Enchong. "The Strangers" is about a family that plan to celebrate the birthday of the twins, Julia and Enrique, in the far away province of Murcia. Eventually, the supposed to be a happy trip turned to a different direction after hitting a stranger on the road. Then one thing lead to another until they found themselves stranded and being hunted by Aswangs, they also encounter a strange hunter (Enchong) and met the locals who will join them in one horrific night in the middle of nowhere, a twist will unfold that will surely put you at the edge of your seat.
What I Like About "The Strangers":
First thing that got me interested in "The Strangers" when I first saw the promotional photos and trailers was that the interactions between the characters were noticeably good and the storyline promise a different 'horror' in Pinoy movie making. I was right. Enchong opening the movie was already a good start to stop eating your popcorn and stick to the screen, I was afraid to miss a scene since I'm pretty sure, clues about the twist will appear everywhere, I was right again. I like that most actors went 'out of their boxes' in this film. Most noticeable was Enchong, he's not your usual clean and sharp bachelor. Bearded and dirty, his hunter-ish moves were convincing. Julia Montes and Enrique Gil also went out of their usual teeny bopper personas. They have scenes that you may see them do the 'first time'. Julia Montes was unexpected for me in this movie, I never expect her to show a character like this. JM de Guzman was good especially during the scene when he went back to the village and discover (SPOILER) her dead mother. I like Jaime Fabrregas' side comments to his son-in-law, it was funny. Cherry Pie was also remarkable especially her scene with the old lady. I can't tell what happened sorry (I've been itching to! LOL!). Queen of Horror, Janice de Belen is the one to bring the humor in this film, I love 'Paloma'! Her creepy stories and odd superficial beliefs were notable, I already knew that Janice will deliver! No questions ask! Horror Queen hello! I liked her scene with the driver during one of their stop overs, 'May Facebook ka? 'Wag mo'ko i-ignore ah!", that was memorable. In totality the cast worked very well, they compliment each other and you will never see a dull scene. I also like the CG's, they don't look cheap, although I think it should be more, kumbaga sa pintura, isang coating pa, but it was fine. I like the CG in that 'Batman-ish' scene with Enchong were bats flew from the cave with him standing hero-ish. At the beginning of the movie, you will feel the vibe of Manilyn Reynes and Aiza Seguerra's 90's movie 'Aswang' and that one episode of 'Shake, Rattle & Roll 2' with the same title. I like the scene were the locals had to return home after they discovered the true events, that camera placed on top of the running locals was magnificent with the addition of nice musical scores. The twist was also a fresh idea, I don't know any Pinoy horror movie that already used this idea. "The Strangers" is a good horror movie with unexpected characters and good gore with a little comedy that will satisfy your craving for pinoy horror movies.
Well not much, I liked it actually. The twist is what you have to look forward in this movie. There were hints throughout the movie on what the twist will be but I think what they did to maintain the mystery was to put, what I call 'distractions'. There were scenes that will take you away from thinking what is the mystery behind the movie. although these 'distractions' were nice addition to the film, sometimes it's not 'swak' to the plot. Like the scene were (SPOILER) the family hit the girl, the viewer will think of it as a major part of the movie but only ended as one of the 'distractions'. You will notice these 'distractions' throughout the film until the twist is finally revealed. I also think that there should be more musical scores to add suspense, it's too quiet sometimes in some part of the movie. Also I think if Enchong grew some beard he should also grew longer hair, he's just a little neat at that area.
Over all, "The Strangers" is a good watch, especially if you're looking for something fresh in pinoy horror film making. Director Lawrence Fajardo did great in this film and the Cinematography is world class. Watching "The Strangers" first in your list of MMFF entries is worth it! Congratulations to Enchong Dee in breaking his teeny bopper image and moved to more unconventional roles.
video upload and screengrab credits to YouTube: legalforum.