It’s that time of the month, when days will be rampant of monsters, ghouls, and strippers, trick or treating in the night while Catholics try to subdue all the bad juju. Of course, we don’t do that here in the Philippines, at least, teens and adults don’t, well, depends on what kind of trick or treat’n… but anyway, for no clear reason besides it’s that scary month of the year, I’ll do a film review. A horror film review. A very successful Filipino horror film that was, butchered, into a bad US remake entitled, The Echo.
You might have heard of it, you might have seen it, and coming from a Filipino film hater, I assure you, without bias, the original version is so much better.
The original’s title, Sigaw, translates into English as “Shout”, although in certain cases, can be interpreted as “Scream”. Cases such as this, “Sige, sumigaw ka ng tulong“, interpreting it as, “Go on, call/shout/scream/cry for help”, which is the main concept of the entire film.
The story, much like the international version, is about a young man named Marvin, who for some damn reason, moves into a too cheap and very creepy apartment. This is quite common for Filipinos, especially those who are just starting out, because even the slightest decent apartment is still too expensive, and the pay is really that bad. But, I believe, no one, in their right mind, would move into a place like this – unless they are really trying to save money, but even so, people would prefer to find roommates in a slightly expensive apartment instead.
Anyway, the decrepit apartment with the dark, empty hallways that gives you the impression you’re the only one living in that entire building, the wife-beating cop, and the little girl running around here and there, is the perfect combination of a really creepy ghost story. The closet thing I can relate this film is, the toned down version of “The Grudge” meets “Dark Water” (both versions).
The limited cast allows further emphasis on creating an eerie atmosphere, geared for starting spooky moments. Although many of these instances you’ll react over sound reflexes, a little scuffling here, a little noise there, some running over there, sudden knocks, and things suddenly appearing, easily shrugged off. The latter part of the film however has some really WTF moments that could have you screaming “Oh shit!” and/or “Hurry up!”, it could be either in a good or bad way, personally, it was good, so it’s best to have a girl with you – preferably one who scares easily, so she clings into your arm, or give you a reason to hide under her skirt. Some of my friends couldn’t use the… uh, too spoilery. Then again, that specific scene I’m talking about mirrors a certain ’80s sci-fi horror, about a kid being friends with an alien that kills the townspeople, sad to say I can’t remember the title.
I’ve noticed in many ghost films. It’s either a) the ghost is so fucking pissed, she (often it’s a she) kills everybody that comes her way, or b) is asking for help but does so is a really scary way that no one really understands them at the very last moment. In here though, you know who the ghosts are, and they are genuinely asking for help, though their appearance shifts back and forth from looking normal to what they became – nothing too fancy, just blood here and there.
Filipino acting can be defined into three words: melodramatic or overacting. This one is somewhere between, leaning toward melodramatic a bit, especially Marvin and his girlfriend, Pinky. The ghosts however, were very impressive, they weren’t all face value, but displayed remarkable acting skills that you can actually believe, unlike all the new stars of today.
I have seen a lot of Filipino films and many are without question, despicable to the point even a horror film monger, would tear out their eyes for watching something so terrible, it should have been outright banned or considered a crime to see it. But this one, is actually pretty good, so if you have some Filipino friends, maybe you can ask them for some translation – or maybe there are English dubs out there as the film was distributed to other Asian countries as well.
Anyhow, to wrap this up, just wanna say, so much love for YouTube, checking out My Chemical Romance’s Conventional Weapons: Boy Division, Tomorrow’s Money, and The World Is Ugly