During Christmastime, Filipino moviegoers will never ran out of horror flicks and two of the eight Metro Manila Film Festival 2018 entries—OTLUM by Joven Tan is another horror story that is intended to scare those who decide to catch it in cinemas.
Frankly, watching the film, I was expecting that this would be a good scare for me. I had been scared all my life that any attempt to scare me won’t work anymore. I was not even shock. At least with the scene in Aurora there was a scene that surprised me. That scene when Ricky peeped into the window and that was it.
With OTLUM, this is another film I had to shake my wits in order to appreciate or maybe just convinced myself that I am wrong with my predictions on certain scenes.
Predictable, Predictable and Predictable.
As soon as the film started, there was this young guy played by Jairus Aquino who entered into a creepy-looking decrepit house. It was poised as a haunted mansion and then when he went up to the second floor of the house, his voice just echoed and it went to the next scene of group of friends trying to bully a nerdy-like and poor lad (Robert Villar), his name—Fred.
Hanggang saan masusukat ang pagkakaibigan ninyo? Horseshoe Studios presents the official trailer of OTLUM—ang takutang ma-eenjoy ng buong tropa at pamilya ngayong Metro Manila Film Festival 2018…Directed by Joven Tan, OTLUM hits cinemas December 25, 2018. Abangan Ngayong Pasko! ..#OTLUM #MMFF2018
Posted by Horseshoe Studios on Tuesday, November 6, 2018
The gang is composed of young stars—Jerome Ponce as Allan, Vitto Marquez as Erwin, Danzel Fernandez as Caloy, Ricci Rivero as Dindo and Michelle Vito as Verna. Because most of the gang members are snooty toward Fred, except for Rivero’s character; the latter was able to convince the leader—Allan and the rest of the members agreed to admit the willing victim into the fold in one condition—he must surpass the test—to stay overnight inside an abandoned orphanage.
Dindo felt guilty of what they did to Fred, he asked the rest of his clique to fetch the poor and helpless, soon-to-be-a-member of their group. To their dismay, they failed to locate him; but Fred heard their conversation. Distraught of what he discovered from them—he went on to commit suicide, which was the easiest route to do for a desperately-seeking for friend like him. And true enough, he was discovered by the gang, hanging lifeless.
Then, deaths followed. Fred’s ghost went after the five who bullied him. He first killed Erwin and Verna.
A Sub-Plot that should have been the Main Plot.
Out of fear, Dindo sought help from the character of John Estrada, who happened to have been connected to the main ghost at the abandoned orphanage. In some flashes, the audience could easily figure out that he must have been the young kid molested by the priest in that haunted, formerly charitable institution.
Thus, the rest of the boys—Dindo, Caloy and Allan along with Estrada’s character revisited the place. The violent, old ghost of the priest is played Pen Medina and the younger version by Ping Medina; attacked the man who was carrying the crucifix. They fought and defeated the ghost.
What was rather funny to note, Estrada’s character forgot to fight Fred’s ghost, which was actually the main objective (the priest’s ghost was just secondary) and was nowhere to be found and only resurfaced when he exact revenge on Jerome’s character. Due to such poor character development and perhaps the director was too carried away from the encounter of Estrada’s character; it was only then he realized that Fred’s ghost should finish the business.
It is a classic horror story with lost souls wandering on this earth that were ‘literally’ at a loss for whatever function they should serve in the film. It could have been better that Fred had a fight against the ghost of the priest. Perhaps, that could have lengthened the film even the more. At least, there was a redeeming factor on Fred’s soul, maybe. Just maybe.
Poorly Imagined and Written Script?
My excitement on this movie was crushed after seeing one by one the scenes that I have predicted and eventually came out the way I imagined it.
The script could have settled to be more eerie-like and silent in presenting the ghosts. It was obvious that the intention to scare its audience, it had to borrow a character from a 2006 American supernatural horror film—The Grudge 2.
Tan wrote the screenplay? I think in his next films, he should decide to just direct or write the script so the entire movie won’t suffer.
Like what I have mentioned in the past, a bad script (with bad storytelling) will always affect the entirety of the piece. The peeping ghosts in the end of the film looked even funny as opposed to being creepy.
It opened with a young guy entering the haunted and abandoned place; and it ended with Vivoree Esclito entering the house again. What a way to book end things. It was such a bad way of concluding every bit of its conflict presented in this entry. I won’t wonder if this would be heading to its brand of doom at the box-office.
In all fairness to the newcomer Ricci Rivero, he managed to act his part alongside Ponce and Villar, who are far seasoned among the rest of the young stars in the film. Irma Adlawan‘s subdued acting didn’t quite shine here, but she is still a very good actress. Estrada has to work hard on his emotions; he looked monotonous in his acting.
Tan should focus more on directing a film or maybe he just have to decide if he’d write the screenplay and not direct.
For those who still want to engage in such kind of ‘scare-me’ tricks, it’s still showing in cinemas.