One ghost too many
Pablo A. Tariman (The Philippine Star) - January 6, 2011 - 12:00am

Film review: Dalaw

After Rosario, I thought Dalaw should be the next most promising film in the festival.

On its first screening at SM Marikina, I had no inkling the film would end up the festival’s third grosser. At 10:30 a.m. on Christmas day, I thought I was the only one awake, the only one who didn’t go through noche buena and the only one wanting to be scared on Christmas day.

To be sure, there are many good things going for Dalaw.

The cinematography and story jibed to give the viewer a scary atmosphere.

The supporting cast was an excellent lot from Gina Pareño (my choice for Best Supporting Actress in the festival) to Ina Feleo and a relatively good input from child actor Maliksi Morales as Kris’ son. Diether Ocampo as Kris’ second husband played the part with subtle undertones, keeping you guessing what sort of character he is.

But as the story progresses, you lose thread of the storyline as the script (a collaboration of several writers) keeps you guessing whose ghost was it haunting Kris. Was it Kris’ first husband or her second husband’s girl friend who committed suicide? This device was working well in the beginning but midway towards the end, you begin to feel you are being taken for a ride. I realize this when the viewers beside me started talking about their noche buenas and collectively let out a guffaw everytime Kris delivered her signature, one-of-a-kind scream that worked on the first outing but had ran out of steam on the succeeding episodes.

The technical side of the film cannot be faulted. Everything from cinematography to sound and music connives to give you a scare, but fails to deliver the element of surprise that should make the scream and scary moments less predictable.

Director Dondon Santos is technically prepared to handle the story but somewhere in the storytelling, you begin to figure out what he was trying to say. After all, the director can remedy what the scriptwriters can’t.

Dalaw isn’t a bad film per se but both filmmakers and moviegoers can learn a lot from it. The story and concept are good materials, the cast is ideal but where did it go wrong?

Kris is touted as the Horror Queen because of her superior output in Feng Shui and Sukob. I am one of those who immensely enjoyed these horror films.

But Dalaw is a totally different story. I say Kris gave her all in this film but the story has one ghost too many compounded by a directorial oversight that didn’t help the heroine achieve what she wants to project.

But one critic’s opinion is just a single voice compared to thousands now obviously enjoying the film.

But an honest critical evaluation can help viewers evolve from the status of plain moviegoers to perceptive cineastes. 

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