Saturday, November 4, 2017

Review of SPIRIT OF THE GLASS 2: THE HAUNTED: Vengeance for Victims

November 3, 2017



The Ouija Board has a subgenre of its own under the category of horror films. So many films had used a ouija board to summon spirits of the dead, eventually causing horrific consequences for the people playing it. I am not sure why people do not tire of whipping up films about another group of reckless youths playing yet another cursed ouija board, and audiences do not seem to tire of watching them. 

The first "Spirit of the Glass" film was written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes, and released in 2004. All the young actors in the cast eventually became known names in local showbusiness, namely Rica Peralejo, Dingdong Dantes, Alessandra de Rossi, Ciara Sotto, Drew Arellano, Paolo Contis, Jay Aquitania and Jake Cuenca. This year, 13 years later, Reyes comes up with a second film about another group of young people playing the same dangerous game. 

Girlfriends Bea (Cristine Reyes), Chelsea (Ashley Ortega) and Lisette (Maxine Medina in her film debut), along with their respective beaus Enzo (Daniel Matsunaga), Andrei (Enrico Cuenca) and Jag (Benjamin Alves), headed over to an old house in Batangas to pick up some items left behind and bequeathed by Bea's recently departed grand-aunt Milagring. One of the boxes contained a huge wooden ouija board with carved inscriptions. 

Out of playful curiosity, the friends summoned a spirit via the ouija board, and the spirit of a woman named Sabrina Villafuerte (Janine Gutierrez) responded to their call, begging them to help her. From then on, the friends were haunted by various ghostly beings wherever they go, including a woman in a white wedding gown, a little girl with a bloody forehead, a man with a gunshot wound on his face, and three old witches, among others. They needed to figure out what kind of help Sabrina needed in order to stop the haunting.

The main highlight scare was that scene of their first ouija board session, which drew out all the ghosts at the same time for the first time. I thought that scene, along with a few more horror scenes, were very well-executed.  However, the bulk of the film felt more like a detective movie than horror, where the friends went around conducting interviews with surviving people who knew who Sabrina was to find out what happened to the unfortunate girl fifty years ago. 

The revenge story was well-written and interesting, familiar but with just enough twists and detail (about local society, politics and showbiz in the 1960s) to set it apart. I felt that there was a bit of a jump in logic with that parallel subplot about a blind girl named Anita (Teri Malvar). How and why can Anita (in Manila) feel a long-distance connection with this particular group of spirits even when the ouija board was still in Batangas? This puzzling point was not convincingly explained, and was just expected to be accepted at face value.

The acting of the six main friends ranged from alright (Reyes and Alves), to hammy (Ortega and Cuenca) to flat (Medina and Matsunaga) -- nothing spectacular. It was Janine Gutierrez's performance as the angry tormented ghost Sabrina and Teri Malvar's performance as the powerful medium Anita that take the top marks among the cast. The other supporting cast (like Pinky Amador, Lollie Mara, Angel Jacob) were mainly there for exposition, to provide clues to slowly reveal the mystery of Sabrina's quest for justice. 

Technically, the cinematography, editing, sound effects and musical score were above average as far as local horror films go. With his organized story-telling style, director Joey Javier Reyes was able to neatly wrap up all the multiple threads at the end, despite having so many characters both in present day and back in time 50 years ago, and still make the film effective as both a mystery (more so) and a horror (less so). 6/10. 


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