IN THE REALM OF THE SUPERNATURAL
by Pablo A. Tariman
Mark Meily’s first horror film touching on the supernatural is my film choice of the week.
One figures it is an indie film but watching its first few frames, you are convinced it has a lot more to offer the moviegoers.
Perhaps the budget is indie but the output has the appeal of a mainstream project and more.
The first fifteen minutes keeps you glued to the story as it takes you to another world where civilization stops and the unexpected happens. You get the tone of the film with the close ups of age-old trees in the forest and the forest creatures that inhabit the unknown.
This is a film that likes to build up suspense as quietly and as spontaneously as possible and the pace actually does a lot of wonder. The lineup of excellent supporting actors is probably the film’s best asset and they give the movie a haunting quality abut it.
Easily the stand-out is Elizabeth Oropesa as the mysterious neighbor of Kara played with agreeable nonchalance by Cristine Reyes.
The piercing eyes and countenance of La Oropeza help define the mystery and from the way she talks, there is hint of horror, there is hint of the unspoken and a hint of a horrible scenario awaiting mother and son (the latter played superbly by Albert Silos).
Reyes as the single mother and real estate agent brings us to the setting that normally will not allow the intrusion of the supernatural. She is forever talking to prospective costumers, she is at peace with the terms given by her ex-partner and for now, she is working to give her only son the best future possible.
But when things started to go wrong, this is where the film brings us to the realm of the seemingly impossible. She relates her childhood experience and recurring dreams to a specialist and it seemed that in her youth, she got lost in the forest for three days and emerged a changed person. Growing up seems normal except for the recurring dreams that haunted her. Then her unlikely fate finds another victim in her son.
When her son (Albert Silos) joins a school trip in the forest of Bulacan where she grew up, that’s when things started to connect from her past to the present.
The son that came from a school trip looked a bit strange and even his pet dog didn’t recognize him. The mysterious neighbor (Oropeza) barges into her home only to tell her that the son who came from the school trip isn’t the same son she used to know. She is close to believing her as she gets a phone call from the son stranded in the Bulacan forest.
As it is, this is a finely crafted horror film that horrifies without insulting our intelligence. It ends with a tragic scenario of what is in store for mother and son.
As earlier noted, the supporting actors did one hell of a job and Oropeza tops the list. Rolly Inocencio (the firewood gatherer) is seen only at the latter part of the film but his presence made such subtle impact it make us believe that strange things do happen in places far away from civilization. The gay hunk repossessed by forest elements delivers his own brand of good acting.
The young actor (Silos) did very well and if this is his film debut, it could only be auspicious with the sensitive way he handled his role. There is palpable character contrast from the real son to the “possessed” version and this Silos hurdled with quiet aplomb.
This is obviously a Mark Meily production from the writing to direction and even musical scoring.
But the big surprise is that “Elemento” ultimately delivers, the direction lacks nothing to be desired, Cristine Reyes didn’t disappoint but then again, La Oropeza is a gem of an actor in this horror film.
“Elemento” released by Viva Films is now showing in cinemas.