CHITO RONO STUNS IN HORROR SEQUEL

Review: “Feng Shui 2”

CHITO RONO STUNS IN HORROR SEQUEL

by Pablo A. Tariman

        The resolute cinematic touch of director Chito Rono is all over “Feng Shui 2” and it builds to a climax unpredictable as it is astounding as the film unravels a unique story woven from our own share of Chinese influences.

Coco Martin, Jonee Gamboa and Kris Aquino in "Fung Shui 2." Martin a stand-out with excellent supporting cast.

Coco Martin, Jonee Gamboa and Kris Aquino in “Fung Shui 2.” Martin a stand-out with excellent supporting cast.

        Rono’s latest output isn’t just first-rate horror film; it is also a mirror of the country’s poor and what Filipinos living in Lower Depths are capable of.

        The family of Lester Anonuevo (Coco Martin) and his mother (Carmi Martin) lives in a slice of urban blight accessible only by boat and surrounded by characters living by  all means fair and foul.

        The director moves on to portray the middle working class represented by real estate agent Joy Ramirez (Kris Aquino) and her fiancée played by Ian Veneracion.

        Ramirez’s friend, Lily Mendoza (Cherrie Pie Picache) is another believer in good luck and she is obsessed by its symbol (the bagua) to the point of keeping it for herself and leaving her best friend in the dark.

 

Trailer from "Fung Shui 2." Chito Rono at his best in horror genre.

Trailer from “Fung Shui 2.” Chito Rono at his best in horror genre.

      The sight of Ramirez (Picache) literally digging for treasures in her home lot is a symbolic one and it might as well depict millions of Filipinos buying lotto tickets to take a crack at the good life.

        The father of Anonuevo (Rez Cortez) is the face of the OFW in this film and his wife (Martin) might as well symbolize the extent to which Filipinos hope for the good life.

        But a long wait is too much for her late and soon and she takes to drinking to neutralize her misery. It has become the favorite pastime of the OFW who reflects on his life after he has built a house for his family.

        Cortez’s quiet but powerful portrayal is the Filipino OFW with all his unflagging virtues.

        After a bit of familiar episodes in Philippine anthropology,  Rono tightly zeroes on his story and horrifies his audience in a manner that truly suspends disbelief.

        The film makes something more explicit and believable about the practice of feng shui as the film shows the patent Chinese influence in Philippine society.

        There is a lecture on the uses of stones and what they are supposed to symbolize. There are constant references on what year the characters were born and where they are headed to meeting characters born in another feng shui symbol.

President  Benigno Aquino watching "Fung Shui 2" on opening day. Film was Rated A by the Cinema Evaluation Board

President  Benigno Aquino watching “Fung Shui 2” on opening day. Film was Rated A by the Cinema Evaluation Board

        The film episodes showing Chinese temples and Chinese New Year celebrations add authenticity to the story.

        The truth is, every frame of this horror film is virtual feast to the cinematic eye.

        After showing the squalor of squatter life in Metro Manila, Rono re-introduces us to our Chinese influence and to what extent they relate to Filipinos.

        Many elements of this horror film point to a masterful handling of the director.

        The story is woven in present day Philippines and depicts a sizable part of the population clinging to last hope for a better life.

        Add to that an engrossing cinematography and excellent sound design and a film scoring that perfectly blend with the story.

        As for the actors, they made the story more believable as they portray a slice of humanity drawn to fatalism.

        Picache’s brilliant gold-digging scene is as much a spoof of what desperate Filipinos are capable of. Aquino’s in-the-brink-of-panic   aura complements the story and on the whole, she doesn’t disappoint.  Coco Martin (the poor jack-of-all-trade in the story) turns in a well-defined portrayal worthy of recognition. You can see a young man trying hard to aim high for the good life but he turns despondent over the unexpected turn of events. That portrayal of vulnerability remains etched on his face and it is the scar of the Filipino also aiming for the good life.

        The rest of the supporting cast turns in equally brilliant portrayal from Cortez to  Carmi Martin to Jonee Gamboa (as Hsui Liao).

        The story of Rono (with screenplay by Roy Iglesia) remains engrossing and with a ring of truth in it.

        “Feng Shui 2” is another ample proof that Rono   is one of the undisputed masters of horror film in Philippine cinema.

        By and large, it deserves its Grade A rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board.

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