LOVE AND HORROR IN A SMALL TOWN

Film Notes
LOVE AND HORROR IN A SMALL TOWN
by Pablo A. Tariman

Nothing prepares you for the suspense that follows the meeting of Jake Vargas and Bea Binene in the Richard Somes film, “Liwanag Sa Dilim.”

There is a hint of love abloom in this love team which has fans shrieking during the premiere night.

Young cast of "Liwanag Sa Dilim:" Spontaneous rapport.

Young cast of “Liwanag Sa Dilim:” Spontaneous rapport.

With many of them bursting into insatiable ecstasy as Jake looks into the eyes of Bea, you would think this movie had “kilig” in mind from beginning to end and it has a never ending quota of this moment.

The screaming makes it hard to follow the story but this is a technically polished film with a lot to say about how this generation figures in the realm of love.

The cinematography and production design enhance the beauty and feel of young love and all throughout the film, you see fresh handling of story and cast.

The three lead characters (played by Jake, Bea and Ige Boy Flores) find themselves in this small town called Estancia and get overly curious about this mysterious woman living in a secluded hut at the outskirt of the town.

Meanwhile, town folks talk of villagers dying the dreadful way.

This gets the local police force on alert which brings us to the role of singer Rico Blanco as policeman. The uniform doesn’t totally transform him but by just being himself, he elicits shrieking from the once and future fans of the River Maya hit, “Liwanag Sa Dilim.”

Jake Vargas and Dante Rivero: fine contrast between two generations of actors.

Jake Vargas and Dante Rivero: fine contrast between two generations of actors.

This movie is aided in no large measure by the presence of veteran actors Dante Rivero with Freddie Webb and they provide stark contrast to the young generation of actors.

Rivero does very little in this movie but every frame asserts his stature. Interacting with Jake as his grandson, Rivero represents what was simple and dignified about his generation of actors.

Sarah Lahbati is a virtual show-stealer in this film with her mysterious looks that all the more magnify her beauty. She moves with ease, the eyes speak a lot and the face can send village swains swooning no end.

When her true identity is revealed in the last part, she is all the more riveting, mysterious and frightening but still alluring in some angles.

But this young actor Ige Boy has more presence and more palpable drive to make his part shine.

Jake and Bea have what it takes to ignite the screen by just being themselves. Jake’s eyes find willing refuge in the presence of Bea who registers very well. The good looks of Jake is exploited very well in this film and the theater literally exploded with delight in a scene where he jumps into the waterfall in shorts like Cupid’s young Adonis.

Bea has a lovely presence as well and we get another side to her versatility in the fight scenes with the mysterious woman.

As it is, the love team works very well with spontaneous rapport.

Moreover, it is only in the last part where the love scenes take the backseat and the confrontation scenes with the mysterious woman become prime attraction with moviegoers literally jumping off their seats in fright.

To be sure, these two young actors needed more convincing vehicles to bring out the actors in them. But for now, “Liwanag Sa Dilim” is a worthy introduction.

Director Richard Somes with cast of "Liwanag Sa Dilim" during premiere night. Endless shrieking from fans of  Jake and Bea.

Director Richard Somes with cast of “Liwanag Sa Dilim” during premiere night. Endless shrieking from fans of Jake and Bea.

The film could be a parable of evil as it lurks in the countryside.

You can find the answers in the song lyrics which intone thus –

Ituring ang iyong sariling
Tagahawi ng ulap
Sa kalangitang kulimlim

Isigaw mo sa hangin
Tumindig at magsilbing
Liwanag
Liwanag sa Dilim

“Liwanag Sa Dilm” is now showing in all theaters.

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