Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Healing

July 23, 2012

I am a fan of Filipino horror films as I have mentioned in my other reviews. "The Healing" features a big Filipino movie star, Ms. Vilma Santos, in a rare appearance in a horror film. It is also helmed by a director who had been responsible for two of the best Filipino horror films in the last decade, "Feng Shui" (2004) and "Sukob" (2006). The well-made teaser trailer was an effective come-on. It was a given that I should also check out this particular film.

Ms. Vilma plays Seth, a woman who runs a boarding house in a middle- class community in the city. After her father (Robert Arevalo) was successfully treated of his post-stroke condition by a faith healer named Elsa (Daria Ramirez), five of her friends and neighbors all convince Seth to bring them to Elsa to treat them of their various medical maladies. In addition, her son Jed (Martin del Rosario) also brought along his half-sister Cookie (Kim Chiu) so her kidney ailment could be cured.

After that day of the fateful healing, one by one, everyone in that group treated by Elsa begins dying of strange and violent circumstances, each one more bizarre than the last. Before each death, Seth would be visited by a crow and a puzzling vision of her friend's doppelganger. Seth now has to race against time to find out why this macabre series of deadly events is happening and hopefully stop it before everyone in the group kicks the bucket.

After the first minor character dies, you already knew how the story would go. The suspense you will feel as you watch on will be more in anticipation of which gory method with which that character will die, not exactly because you do not know what will happen next. To Rono's credit, each death scene somehow topped the previous one in as much as the blood factor is concerned.

Everyone did well at looking scared. Ms. Vilma Santos is Ms. Vilma Santos. She doesn't really disappear very well into her role as Seth. This is not to say she did not perform well, she did; but her aura as Star for All Seasons and Governor of Batangas is simply too strong to ignore. Kim Chiu appeared in very few scenes despite her second billing. Like on TV, she needs to inject more energy in her performance. I did not know Martin del Rosario before this movie, but he actually delivered very well in his meaty role as Jed. Special mention would have to go to Robert Arevalo for daringly delivering the most embarrassing lines in the movie -- hilarious! Not really sure why Ynez Veneracion had to show her right boob though, maybe for old times sake.

Several camera angles used by Mr. Rono were very well-planned and executed to maximize the tension onscreen. Like other productions I see now, there was color coordination in the costumes of all the characters on screen. Here though, I did not quite see why a certain color was chosen for which scene. It was also distracting sometimes to see the common color scheme continuing into subsequent unrelated scenes. Many common scare tactics and music were employed here -- nothing highly original. But thankfully, at least there was NO Sadako-like creature in this one. 

Overall, it is just OK. I think that "The Healing" had been too reminiscent of other horror films the way the friends of the lead character were dying around her and it is up to her to break the curse. If it was Kris Aquino who played Seth instead of Vilma Santos, it would just be "Feng Shui" all over again.

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