Direk Yam L. on Yam C: Everything is a breeze working with Yam. She is a very good actor and has depth. I love the way she collaborated in bringing out her character as Jessie, the medical technologist who doesn’t believe in life after death.
A ‘scary’ chat with Yam & Yam
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2020 - 12:00am

Put Yam and Yam together and what do you get? A scary film called Night Shift, a follow-up to the 2019 MMFF top-grosser Miracle in Cell No. 7 from Viva Films, opening nationwide on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Yam is director Yam Laranas and the other Yam is actress Yam Concepcion. They are working together for the first time.

It’s safe to say that Yam L. is the King of Horror Films (Aurora, 2018; The Road, 2011; and Sigaw, 2004, which won a special award at the Brussels International Film Festival [BIFF] and was remade by Hollywood retitled The Echo). Before specializing in the horror genre, Yam took a bow as movie director (he used to direct TV commercials) with Balahibong Pusa (2001) and Hibla (2002), both erotic thrillers that predated Adan, his 2019 “disturbing” work about women in love played by Cindy Miranda and Rhen Escaño.

A graduate of Colegio de San Lorenzo and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde Manila, Yam C. herself kickstarted her career with erotic thriller, Rigodon (directed by Erik Matti), followed by daring roles in the Kapamilya soaps Dugong Buhay and Halik.

Written by Yam L. himself, the Viva-Alliud Entertainment joint venture is set in a hospital morgue where Jessie (Yam C.), assistant of a religious pathologist (Michael de Mesa), works on a straight shift one stormy night. Jessie doesn’t believe in the afterlife but she wonders why strange sounds seem to be coming from the cadavers. Are they coming back to life? The thought torments Jessie.

Yam Concepcion with Night Shift director Yam Laranas
Photos from Yam Concepcion’s Instagram

How scary is Night Shift?

Yam C.: It’s not a horror film that relies on “jump” scares but the kind that will creep you out because of its calmness. Imagine being stuck in the morgue by yourself and then suddenly the dead begin to manifest signs of resurrection. Creepy!!!

Yam L.: Night Shift is very scary because it is set inside a morgue…a very scary world. And the idea behind it is more frightening because it is based on scientific studies by NYU that consciousness does not immediately end upon death. For how long? No one knows yet.

You could be known as Queen of Thrillers while Yam L. is King of Thrillers, so how is your working relationship?

Yam C.: We get along very well. This is my first horror film and I am very lucky to have Yam Laranas as my director. In fact, I am a fan of his film Sigaw. I’ve always been a fan of his cinematography and the depth of his works. He is so fun to work with. Kwela din! Also, he respects each and everyone’s role on the set. As a director, he tells you what he wants for a scene and then gives you the freedom as an artist.

Yam L.: Everything is a breeze working with Yam. She is a very good actor and has depth. I love the way she collaborated in bringing out her character as Jessie, the medical technologist who doesn’t believe in life after death.

What are some of your scary experiences on the set?

Yam C.: Seeing the dummy on set scares me. The prosthetics? Wow! There’s this one scene that really scared me. But, of course, I can’t tell you about it ’cause it might give away the plot twist. If you watch our film, you will know what I’m talking about.

(To Yam L.) Any “formula” for making a horror film as scary as possible?

Yam L.: No specific formula. But I believe in being grounded and making sure that my stories and characters are real and believable. I want to see what’s real out there and I translate it into a real scary story because that has a connection to a lot of people…it becomes relatable. And when you translate that into something horrifying, it touches people’s fears, nightmares and skeletons in their closet. Location is another character in a horror film. It is where fear and paranoia are created.

Yam Concepcion with Night Shift director Yam Laranas (right) with Michael de Mesa
Photos from Yam Concepcion’s Instagram

Which is more scary, doing intimate scenes (in Rigodon) or doing hair-raising scenes in Night Shift?

Yam C.: The two movies are of very different genres. Nothing can beat how scared I was doing Rigodon.

You were quoted as saying that you regretted having done very sexy roles, why so?

Yam C.: I regret how much skin I have shown particularly in that movie (Rigodon). I didn’t know much about the industry at the time I did it. So I didn’t know my restrictions and boundaries as an actress yet. I wish I had known better. I just trusted my management.

No more sexy roles from now on?

Yam C.: If I like the script and I see myself portraying the role, I’d take it.

Has your (non-showbiz) boyfriend anything to do with that decision?

Yam C.: No. It’s a decision I made for myself.

You were good in Halik. Is that the path (sexy drama) you are pursuing now?

Yam C.: Thank you. I enjoyed portraying my character Jade so much. As much as possible, I don’t want to limit myself to just that. If the material is good and if I see potential in the character, then I’d go for it. I’m at the point of my career where I want to explore what other roles I can do that can help my growth as an actor.

What’s your favorite scary movie?

Yam C.: A lot! It’s hard to pick a favorite. The Shining will forever be a favorite; it’s a film that ages well. The others are The Witch, Oculus, The Haunting of Hill House (series) and Penny Dreadful (series).

What scares you more, ipis (cockroach) or fresh guys?

Yam C.: Hahahaha!!! Yes, flying ipis!!!

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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