TALE OF POSSESSION IN A HIGH-RISE CONDO

Film Notes
TALE OF POSSESSION IN A HIGH-RISE CONDO
By Pablo A. Tariman

There are many things going for “Ilawod” deftly directed by Dan Villegas.

The cast of “Ilawod.” Genuine horror from within.

The cast of “Ilawod.” Genuine horror from within.

For one, it has a solid story written by award-winning writer Yvette Tan and the seasoned actors are complimented by highly promising young people in the cast.

The cinematography doesn’t call attention to itself but with superb musical scoring and sound editing, the film strikes terror in the heart of moviegoers without trying too hard.

One likes the quiet pace with which the film builds up but when you least expected it, you realize anyone can be possessed even if you are enjoying the safe, if, relative comfort in a high-rise condominium.

Even without effects, the film triumphs as a horror vehicle with good writing and imaginative direction. For another, the film provides good contrast between rural and city living and along with it, the cultural contrasts in how rural and city folks take to the existence of the supernatural.

Director Dan Villegas with Ian Veneracion and Epi Quizon. A real creepy tale without the effects.

Director Dan Villegas with Ian Veneracion and Epi Quizon. A real creepy tale without the effects.

The pessimism that follows every tale of possession is exemplified by a reporter played by Ian Veneracion who thinks the possessed person is just acting for the benefit of media persons with camera. On the whole, this pessimism is shared by his wife played by Iza Calzado.

But as the story unfolds, the pessimism turns into quiet alarm until it begins to wreak havoc into their quiet and simple condominium living.

The good thing about this film is that it horrifies by just quietly following a good story of possession in the countryside.

In this film, Veneracion and Calzado reach a level of acting that is at once mature and quietly spontaneous. There is no attempt to overact or over delineate a scene. For these two lead actors, one saw perfect ensemble acting at its best.

Iza Calzado in “Ilawod.” A well-nuanced performance.

Iza Calzado in “Ilawod.” A well-nuanced performance.

The supporting cast (Epi Quizon, Joel Saracho, Ruby Ruiz) add to a certain level of credibility in the story as they talk and look like the ordinary people in Tan’s engrossing story.

But as the film reaches its horrifying finale, you realize the young actors have allowed the film to reach a level of terror hinted in the story.

Harvey Bautista (son of Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista) reveals a lot of promise in this acting debut and Xyriel Manabat jolts everyone in her concluding appearance before the credits rolled on.

Shooting the underwater scenes in “Ilawod.” The young actors are equally at their best.

Shooting the underwater scenes in “Ilawod.” The young actors are equally at their best.

But a contender for best actress is Therese Malvar as the water spirit, Isla. She provides a lot of spooky moments that range from the sensual to the hair-raising.

This early, “Ilawod” is my first candidate for horror film of the year.

It yields a lot of horrifying moments it will likely follow you even after the screening.

“Ilawod” directed by Dan Villegas opens in cinemas January 18.

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