THE CHALLENGE OF HORROR FILMS ACCORDING TO DIREK ADOLF ALIX, JR.
by Pablo A. Tariman
He is dark with a watchful eyes and at 37, he is still fairly lean and now deep into film and television.
His humble beginnings show he is inclined to filmmaking when he won a nationwide screenwriting contest spearheaded by the Film Development Council. The same winning script became a feature film called Kahapon, May Dalawang Bata directed by Carlitos Siquion Reyna.
Other scripts became Gil Portes films like Mga Munting Tinig (2002) and Homecoming (2003), among others.
His initial big break as director happened in the Cinemalaya film fest when his Donsol became finalist in best film category and went on to win the Special Jury prizes in the Asian Marine Film Festival in Japan and in the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in the U.S.A.
The extra bonus was that it was considered as the country’s Oscar Academy Awards entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
The rest, as they say, is history.
While busy with post-production work for several star-studded independent films, Direk Adolf suddenly finds himself in a mainstream project belonging to the horror genre.
In this presscon for the horror film, Chain Mail, he is seated with young actors who are probably better off as matinee idols than anything else.
Working with the likes of Nora Aunor, Coco Martin and Cherrie Pie Picache in latest projects, the young cast to him is a big challenge in artistic collaboration.
The assignment from the very beginning was difficult but he is not exactly new to the genre. In his younger days, he was a fan of the horror films of Peque Gallaga which made him realize that he should succeed in striking horror in the heart of moviegoers to make a good impression.
What came as a surprise to the movie scribes was that in real life, the director actually believes in ghosts and has actually seen one. “What I set out to do is to translate the horror of that experience in this assignment. You actually learn many things that happen in real life and you remain hopeful you can translate them into good cinema.”
Working with the young actors was to him a challenge as to which approach would work well with them.
“It was hard in the beginning,” he admits. “For some, it takes a hell of an effort to get the right reactions but somehow I found a way to make them deliver what I wanted in a particular scene. You have to consider various attacks and use one that will be most effective to them. It wasn’t totally hard because they know the story, we took it up in the story conference and most of the time, and they are really prepared. In the end, you just have to guide them to get the best result. The good thing is that they have fresh approach to what they are doing and I just have to refine them on the set.”
Why Chain Mail among other subjects?
Direk Adolf says the subject of chain mail is a good idea for a film project because nearly everyone got their first-hand experience of this practice in social media, by email and by text messages.
The veiled threat not to break the chain of communication is to him a good starting point for a good horror film.
Nearly everyone in the presscon (including the cast) didn’t believe something untoward will happen if they break the chain. But the director points out: “What if the threat is true?”
The real work for him is to build an atmosphere with a natural setting that will elicit fear without trying too much. “You have to balance many things in a horror film. The story should flow naturally and whatever special effects used should blend with the rest of the film and not became the main attraction.”
For now, the director is confident he will do well in mainstream as he did in indie projects.
“I don’t believe one has to change approach when doing mainstream or indie films,” he points out. “Of course you have to try very hard to live up to the audience expectations. But the thing is whether working on mainstream or indie projects, the level of truth is the same. You just have to focus on what the audiences want and that is to be horrified by what they are watching.”
Chain Mail directed by Adolf Alix, Jr. opens on July 22. It stars Nadine Lustre, Jackie Lou Blanco, John Regala, Meg Imperial, Shy Carlos, AJ Muchlach, Khaleb Santos and Mark Bautista.