The Witness: A film you would rather not witness

I’ve been quite intrigued by this movie ever since I saw the trailer over a month ago. More so when I saw the intricate detail in the camera shots and the potential in the general premise of the film. After I passed it over for a couple of blockbusters, I finally caved in today and saw it. As it turns out, I should have stayed home instead to spare myself from the anguish and frustration that this supposed horror action-drama jointly produced by GMA Films and Skylar Pictures brought me.

Angel Williams (Gwen Zamora) and her family are expats from the Philippines who have been living in Jakarta for the better part of 10 years. When she survives the attack on her home that killed her parents, her sister and the rest of their household, she begins to have dreams of a boy fraught with depression, while ghosts of her family haunt her during her waking hours, leaving her clues to the killer’s identity. As the mystery behind the motive for the killing grows deeper, Angel is caught in a web of scandal that may put her in danger yet again from the man who slaughtered her family.

I must admit that director Muhammad Yusuf and and his team did an excellent job with the movie’s scoring and cinematography. The long shots lent to the sense of creepiness of the locations while the general silence in some of the sequences coupled with subtle music should have been great indications of a great overall movie.

Sadly, the story did not have enough material to sustain the gains of the film in the beginning (until the murder scene) and was left to resort to overly playing out the depression of the lead star Angel, who spent the better part of the movie making stupid decisions, crying, sniveling and running in slow motion. I swear, for the entire movie, this heroine did nothing right and spent a great deal of time whining rather than letting the police (who was super willing to assist her and catch the killer) help her find justice for her family. Everything she did right was done by mistake, so thank heavens for that or she would have ended up as one huge pile of dung.

The thing is,  some actors consider the ability to cry on cue as a sign of excellent acting, but the truth is, real acting hinges on the ability to do something other than leak out a few tears, screams and terror. True acting stems from the ability to improvise and make the scenes different from each other despite the fact that the material is quite thin and limits one’s range. This was precisely what killed the movie for me.

Because the material was not deep enough to sustain the entire film, filmmakers had to focus on the survivor angle and even re-enacting the murders several times (some on supernatural form) to keep the back story (which was more interesting than the main story) close to their chest before they revealed it in one fell swoop sequence towards the last 20 minutes of the film. So for the entire time, sequences of Angel crying, having a breakdown, and being haunted became the norm and the problem was it felt like the same scene over and over again. This made the film rather tough to digest in the long run.

All in all, The Witness was a big letdown — not recommended for people will low tolerance for crap, and generally those who regard their time with some importance.