Even before Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles was shown in theaters, it already had a lot going for it — a horror flick based on mythical creatures from Filipino folklore who prey on pregnant women by eating their babies (while still in their bellies), a cast of highly bankable actors (Dingdong Dantes recently won best actor in last year’s film festival for playing a psycho while Lovi Poe is fast gaining a reputation for being the Philippines’ horror princess), and the fact that this flick is the first ever movie in the Philippines shot completely in blue screen, meaning that the entire film was shot inside a studio with the environment completely controlled by the special effects team. Saying that the expectation for this movie was huge would be an understatement but suffice to say, I thought that this film delivered in spades.
The movie starts off with Makoy (Dingdong Dantes), an abrasive and arrogant engineer from Manila coming to the province to woo his pregnant girlfriend Sonia (Lovi Poe) into reconciling and coming back home with him. But Sonia has had enough of her boyfriend’s immaturity and chooses instead to stay with her parents Nestor (Joey Marquez) and Fely (Janice de Belen), and her childhood friend Bart (Mario Bautista), who works as her father’s right hand man. After hearing that Sonia will be celebrating her birthday the following day, Makoy decides on a last ditch effort to save his relationship by purchasing a pig to be roasted during the celebration from Bart’s distant cousins. As it turns out, they get more than what they bargained for when they make the purchase.
Writer and director Eric Matti did a superb job i helming this movie. First, the script was equal parts light and serious providing for some witty exchanges among the film’s main characters in the beginning and establishing their rapport with the audience before the pursuit and the confrontation with the aswangs began. The script made sure that the audience was relaxed and having fun, laughing at and with the characters and liking them so much that when the assault finally comes, the audience would already be involved in the story and would be cheering the heroes on. Second, the mix between heavy rock, and an old western score gave the movie a mix of retro and modern feel, which gave the flick the campiness of old school horror, coupled with the innovations of modern special effects. Third, the cast was awesome. I am not a big fan of Lovi Poe, especially after I massacred her acting skills in Guni Guni, which until now gives me goosebumps for entirely the wrong reasons, but this time around, I thought she did a pretty good job. Dingdong Dantes as the leading man was able to handle his role as a jerk, who eventually evolves into a decent human being come daybreak and Janice de Belen as the nagging wife Fely was pure perfection. But the real star of the show for me was Joey Marquez, who plays the mild mannered man of the house who kowtows to his wife’s every wish. His comedic timing is perfect, especially as a breaker for the grittier scenes and the way he takes on the challenge of protecting his home from a sea of monsters is highly commendable. My favorite scene was when he confronted the Tiktik in front of his house, and the way he did it. One truly has to witness that scene in order to appreciate it. Priceless.
Product placements aside, I thought that the production was great, as was the special effects. I would have preferred consistency in the look of the Tiktiks, as generally, Filipino folklore does not really say anything about super Tiktiks morphing into giant dogs a la Resident Evil, or winged creatures that look like Shinigami from Death Note. I thought that the special effects team did awesome in the beginning in keeping things simple but when they started to get fancy, I felt that the Filipino flavor of the Tiktiks got lost in translation. Tiktiks are Filipino monsters and I think that they should not be influenced by what monsters look like in Hollywood for it to work. Filipino designers should always keep that in mind.
All in all, I loved the film. One of the best local horrors I’ve seen. so far. It was very edgy, but entertaining, and exciting. It did not take itself too seriously as most horrors of today do, since all these brooding Asian horror emerged. Instead, it set itself apart from the pack by being fun, which made viewing it all the more delightful for the audience Thumbs up!