Thursday, October 5, 2017

Review of THE DEBUTANTES: Bloody Birthdays

October 5, 2017

In the grand tradition of Pinoy horror that it actively pushed in the "Shake, Rattle and Roll" films, Regal Films produces this new horror film with a unique casting gambit. This latest work of director Prime Cruz features five of the prettiest young actresses of today as five teenagers all about to turn 18 one after the other in a course of two weeks. However, a sinister force is determined not to make their debut birthdays happy ones for them. 

Kate Angeles is the typical school genius who was also a major social outcast. She wore a thick long unruly crown of hair with oppressive bangs to frame her sullen face. She was an orphan who lived with her aunt, and shared her bedroom with Wena, a younger girl who can remain remarkably calm come whatever happens to help Kate cope with her bullies.

Kate longed to belong to a group of popular girls in their school, the Saint Clarence University, est. 1955. These pretty and stylish girls included Jenny, Candice, Shayne and Lara. Of course, these girls would simply ignore Kate like she did not exist. One day, a flunking Lara desperately asked Kate to help her with her math lessons and the two eventually get closer. 

Lara invited Kate to attend the debut party of Jenny (coincidentally the same birthday as Kate's), the mean girls played a very mean prank on the poor nerd. From that day, each of the mean girls would meet a terrifying death one after the other, all on their birthdays. Kate had to rush to figure out how the curse could be stopped before it reaches her friend Lara.

The plot ran like most teenage horror flicks where each character gets picked off to die one by one until only the main character would remain. The revenge scenario seemed to the obvious order of the day. However it will still puzzle some viewers because Kate always seemed to be asleep when the victims met their violent ends. Actually, I think you will figure the mystery out before the reveal, as the answer was not that hidden that complexly. 

Sue Ramirez, with her remarkably sad eyes, does pretty well in her role as the tormented Kate. She was definitely deglamorized here to make her look mousy and wretched. At first, there will be questions surrounding this strange girl. Why does she keep retching and vomiting at the sink? Why does she have all those terrible scars on her back? What is Wena's relationship with her? These questions will all be answered in the course of the film, which is good. But I am curious why no one ever cared to ask her about the scars even if they were in plain sight.

Miles Ocampo, as Lara, seemed to be content to play her usual goodie-goodie roles we also see her play on TV. The three mean girls were over the top in their mean-ness towards Kate. Everyone was one-dimensionally bad girls. Jane de Leon played the nasty ringleader Jenny. Michelle Vito is the kleptomaniac snoot Candice. Chanel Morales is the stubborn swimmer Shayne. No remorse indeed for the wicked.

I have to commend the two child actresses who were outstanding in their harrowing roles here. Faye Alhambra is the one who played the ever-supportive Wena. Kim Chloie Oquendo is the one who played Kate as a young girl. 

It was very unusual that the girls were always alone, with no one else around, even in very public places like a parking lot or a public pool. It was always only them inside their houses at any time. No one comes to their aid when they are already screaming or struggling loudly. There was a scene showing Kate's aunt and her toddler son, but they were never seen or heard of again throughout the film. 

The story of this horror flick is not too complicated. The horror effects were competent, and the scary tension was built quite well. When you see that guy in the dark-colored monster though, no, it was not really scary. But wow, he came out of someone's mouth! At least, that was new. However, there was not really any good jump scares. 

"The Debutantes" is geared towards the teen crowd same as its protagonists. The teens' obsession with cellphone video taking and social media posting is well-addressed. Remarkable that there is not a single significant male character, except one in a flashback. It was also remarkable there was not a single significant adult character, except that same one in the flashback. Overall, this was not bad, but it had nothing too innovative or special to make it too memorable as well. 5/10. 

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