Gabi ng lagim all over again
The fi rst episode is Hukay, directed by Lawrence Fajardo (photo), starring, Cristine Reyes as Maya who arrives in the town of San Malverde to do some business. She then discovers an underground tunnel which is said to have a hidden gateway to hell.
STAR/ File

Gabi ng lagim all over again

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2020 - 12:00am

Back in 2000, a horror anthology called Kagat ng Dilim kept audiences awake with terrifying tales. Twenty years later, televiewers can get a good scare once again from the all-new Kagat ng Dilim, premiering tonight at 9:30 on TV5, directed by a new breed of critically-acclaimed directors for Viva Television.

Richard Somes

Richard Somes (Best Director for Yanggaw at the Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival, also directed Cry No Fear, and Corazon: Unang Aswang).

Lawrence Fajardo (Best Director for Imbisibol at the Sinag Maynila Film Festival, and winner of the Netpac Award at Vesoul Asian Film Festival for the same film, winner at the Cinemalaya Film Festival for Best Short Film, Kultado, also directed Class 3 Has a Secret and The Strangers).

Paul Basinillo

Paul Basinillo (director of the hit mini-series Tabi Po, and a prolific concert director best known for the sold-out concerts of Sarah Geronimo, such as This 15 Me and 24/SG, and The Cr3w with Billy Crawford, Sam Concepcion and James Reid).

Rae Red

Rae Red (Best Director for Babae at Baril at the QCinema International Film Festival and Gawad Urian Award, also Best First Feature for Si Chedeng at Si Apple at the Young Critics Circle).

Brace yourselves. It’s gabi ng lagim all over again.

Funfare put the four directors on the hot seat, with three questions:

1. Several local movies have tackled Filipino horror folk tales. How did you put a new spin to retelling those stories?

2. Which is more effective in engaging the audience, visual presentation (vampire, aswang, a cat suddenly jumping into a hair-raising scene, etc.) or the unseen and only felt/imagined (such as in The Innocents starring Deborah Kerr, remade as The Others with Nicole Kidman, Blair Witch Project, etc.)?

3. Name your favorite local movie (only one) and foreign horror movie (only one), and briefly explain your choice.

Rae Red

1. I try to put my own spin on horror stories by tackling fears of people today such as having a secure job that would get us through the day, coping with losing someone unexpectedly and defining our own identity and individuality.

2. I think both have their own uses depending on the kind of story we want to tell. But the unseen will always be scarier to me because it can be shaped into anything the protagonist fears, which tends to be more abstract fears.

3. Not sure if it’s considered horror but I’ve always been especially afraid of Vic Silayan in Kisapmata because of his portrayal of extreme patriarchy ruling over his family. My current favorite foreign horror film is Hereditary. I loved how it was able to juggle the drama, horror and surrealness in one movie. It’s a new kind of horror that was able to blend different genres.

Paul Basinillo

1. Having a new set of directors working on this horror franchise, I think we can incorporate our own individual styles into our stories. Having said that, I made sure that my episodes reflect our time. The way our characters behave, how we as human beings are affected by technology and how we interact with other people socially and virtually. These things together with our visual and narrative style are something that I hope we can contribute to our industry.

2. Both techniques are equally effective. It really depends on what the narrative is calling for in a scene. But I am always intrigued by the unknown and the unseen can often keep our imagination wild.

3. My favorite is probably Yam Laranas’ Sigaw and its international adaptation The Echo mainly because the story was really engaging for me and it was really crafted well. Lately, I’ve indulged in the movie His House because it speaks so much about social issues and disparities without losing context on making such a fresh, powerful and visually appealing film. It reminds me a lot about some of the techniques we used in our film series Tabi Po.

Lawrence Fajardo

1. Of course, we tried to adapt to the times and give a more modern approach to the stories. I also wanted to capitalize more on increasing the feeling of fear with the pace of the story rather than the audience just being scared because of visual monsters. It helped a lot that we have great actors who can give the right emotion as needed. Kudos to all our actors, Cristine Reyes for Hukay, Kim Molina and Debbie Garcia for 14th floor and Mccoy de Leon, Julian Trono, Aubrey Caraan, Carlyn Ocampo and Kedebon for Tok Tok for their commitment. We braved the rains and even the storm Ulysses (during Tok Tok shoot) in mounting these projects. Cristine gave her all in an almost claustrophobic dungeon, the five youngsters continued taping even during the bad weather, and Kim had to run down how many flights of stairs that she had blisters on her feet.

2. Oh, this is what I was saying in the first answer. I believe in making the audience’s imaginations run wild with the unseen with hints of scary visuals. I think creating an overall feeling that will scare viewers whether you use visual presentation or not is the key. It depends on the story, although I am more in favor of playing with the audience’s imagination. We’re all scared of death and the unknown. Darkness encapsulates both. I believe that in the darkness lies everyone’s fears. Everything you can’t see in the darkness just adds to the mystery and fear.

3. My favorite local horror flick is Peque Gallaga’s Manananggal from the Shake, Rattle and Roll series. From the design, the lighting to the acting, the film was very realistic and its mounting was very cohesive. At that time na visual effects and prosthetics were not that advanced, making the manananggal fly was a feat in itself. I remember that I was amazed at how realistic and scary it all was.

Richard Somes

1. I put a spin on retelling the horror genre by sticking to its original folklore and mythology and then reconstruct it with its new language and some original and new concepts and twists about how the story should be told and how the genre should progress to give the audience a kind of flavor in terms of how we want to attack the horror stories all over again.

2. As a director, I want my horror to be as real as possible. Something that could translate and can narrate to the audience, something that is very familiar to them, something that these elements could possibly and could happen to them. And I’m more or less a more scary type of director. I don’t rely on CGI or the classic jump scare tricks. I’m more of the level of anticipation of the audience. I want to bring the audience into an experience.

3. My favorite local horror movie is the episode of the first Shake, Rattle & Roll titled Manananggal directed by the great Peque Gallaga. I love that episode because it’s esoteric, isolated and the fear of spiritual conviction is there. It’s a fight between your faith and the force that tries to challenge it and in the end, it’s only your faith that can save you. And also, the setting of the film is just so relatable because I truly grew up in that kind of environment, na the way Peque made it, it’s pure storytelling and the element of putting all the horror pieces all together, and how Peque set the mode and tone.

My favorite foreign horror movie is Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot (1983) directed by Tobe Hopper. Again, it’s the mode and tone of the film that set it apart. The feeling of isolation is so strong in that film. It’s a small town infected by vampires. It’s a great film because it doesn’t rely on CGI again but on directing, staging and mode. And for the first time, I was introduced to the Nosferatu-inspired vampire by FW Murnau. It’s not a movie actually but a telemovie.

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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