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Supreme radar: The horror of Dodo Dayao: Watch out for this film critic-turned-filmmaker. |


Supreme radar: The horror of Dodo Dayao: Watch out for this film critic-turned-filmmaker.

Stefan Punongbayan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - In the film Violator, a devastating storm holds five men captive in a police precinct. A sixth man, a scrawny prisoner with bloodshot eyes, may or may not be Satan himself. The writer and director of this madness is the film critic-turned-filmmaker Dodo Dayao. Supreme sits down with Dodo (he refuses to be called by his first name, Eduardo — except if you’re going to hand him a check), as Violator screens at the ongoing Cinema One Originals film festival.

SUPREME: You are known in the local film circles to be an astute critic and blogger. As far as praxis (theory and practice) is concerned, how does this figure in your creative process as a filmmaker? How would you explain the dynamics between your two seemingly contradicting lives?

DODO DAYAO: It’s all a flick of the switch, really. I wish I had a less banal answer than that but sadly, no. The film critic and filmmaker in me have long made peace with each other. Besides, the best film critics understand film language (and hopefully language, too) and filmmakers are often the most opinionated about other filmmakers and other films. I think it’s the most natural crossover in the world. But few people seem to think so.

Can you illustrate the terrain of local horror films as of late?

Can we stop it with the vengeful spirits, please? But really, American horror cinema isn’t in any better shape, is it? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: please read new horror fiction as they’re at least 20 steps ahead of horror cinema. Domestically, it’s been a while since we’ve had anything as good as Pasiyam or Yanggaw or Kinatay or Punerarya or Yaya or the wild, loopy remake of Pridyider, quite possibly the first quasi-Lovecraftian domestic horror. I did like Pascalina, Puti and How To Disappear Completely and am looking forward to Kubot. But as a fan and as someone who thinks we could be a potential hotbed for the genre, like Japan used to be, that’s too few.

In recent years, the academe has finally reached the same level of appreciation for horror films as the general public. From where you’re sitting, should a filmmaker be obliged to help change the perception of certain film genres?

There should be no compulsion to legitimize any film genre to the academe.

For Violator, you chose to cast Joel Lamangan, Victor Neri, Andy Bais, and Timothy Mabalot, among others. Tell us what you had in mind when you gathered them.

I’m terribly proud of the main ensemble, not just in terms of their skills and intelligence as performers, but in how they fulfilled my brief to cast against type. The character designs, at least of the main ensemble, were terribly prone to the sort of casting you can see a mile away. I wanted to do something unorthodox from the get-go. We got everyone we wanted in the roles we wanted them for.

As someone who firmly believes in the rakenrol approach to filmmaking, what would you say were its boons and banes that influenced Violator’s overall production?

There’s always a push and pull when you try to run a well-oiled set but also make a lot of room to color outside the lines. But nothing can touch the energies that leak into the film.

It’s been a year since typhoon Yolanda left a huge chunk of our country in shambles. Do you think that the aftermath has somehow affected the Filipino psyche and how we view our day-to-day horrors?

Maybe, but to what degree I’m not sure. We’ve become world famous for how terribly elastic our psyches can be. If you’re asking if real-world anxieties have made us immune to our more superstitious fears, I’m not entirely sure either.

And if Violator could have an alternate ending…

The floodwaters rise. The world ends. Everybody dies. Nobody grieves. In short, a happy ending.

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Tweet the author @Watdahel_Marcel.

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