When a franchise reaches fourteen sequels and has become an annual event among moviegoers, viewers are entitled to have a certain level of expectation. The Shake Rattle and Roll franchise has reached this milestone and while in previous years, its offerings have had hits and misses, this year’s bar was set high because the entire film, while still split in three chapters, was directed solely by Philippine horror master Chito Roño, whose film credits include Spirit Warriors, Feng Shui, Sukob and most recently, The Healing.
Episode 1: Pamana
Pamana stars SRR alums from the first Shake Rattle and Roll movie Janice de Belen, Herbert Bautista, and Arlene Muhlach as three of four cousins who stand to receive P20 million in inheritance from a deceased uncle, a horror writer who died embittered by people who ridiculed his life’s work. Under the premises of his will, the money will be split among those who will remain alive after one month, with the survivors splitting among themselves the cash should any of them die before the stipulated time. However, there is a catch. Each of the cousin should take home and care for one of their uncle’s masterpieces. Failure to do so will lead to dire consequences.
I should say that Pamana was my favorite episode for this year’s SRR offering. It was not too hard core but had the elements of old school horror — a bit funny, a bit campy. Each of the stars gave strong performances — both the vets and the young stars. While the episode was short, it was fun and well done, with sort of a Scooby Doo feel and a slight twist in the end. Kudos to scriptwriter Ricky Lee who penned this episode.
Episode 2: The Lost Command
A platoon of soldiers scour the jungle to get to the bottom of reports that there are mysterious creatures preying on villagers and soldiers deployed in the area. However, as they go deeper into the forest, they are picked off one by one by beings who display uncanny strength and speed not common to a regular killer. They also learn of the creatures’ connection to a group of soldiers that got lost in the jungle many years ago.
The Lost Command was the longest episode in this year’s SRR. While the episode was off to a promising start, it slowly (the operative word being slowly) became obvious that casting Dennis Trillo as a soldier was a wrong move on the part of the filmmakers. Dennis is a dramatic actor and he excels at being such, but as a potential action star, even for a while, Dennis made the mistake of hamming it up too much. I would have liked Paulo Avelino to take on a more aggressive persona but Mart Escudero and and Rommel Padilla were great in their respective characters.
I thought Episode 2 was not as strong as the first one, although there were more blood and guts spilled in this segment than any other episode this year, mainly because I felt that the story was familiar although I can’t remember which Hollywood movie I’ve seen with the same plot (or similar to it anyhow). The story had a lot of loopholes but for the time it was given, it was a passable attempt by scriptwriter Rody Vera.
Episode 3: Unwanted
Typically, SRR ends the movie with the strongest episode and to a degree, this episode covers the biggest magnitude of all episodes but no more than that. The Unwanted stars Vhong Navarro as Hank and Lovi Poe as his girlfriend Kate who try to escape from a mall after surviving a huge explosion that crushed the whole establishment. But first, they must get past the myriad of aliens who chomp on any and all survivors who attempt to flee.
I must say that I was fairly disappointed by this episode the most. The Lost Command seemed to drone on endlessly, but the final episode was the exact opposite. It seemed that only a few minutes passed from the opening of The Unwanted, that the episode was already ending.
I had great hopes for this Sci Fi since the title (The Invasion) hinted that this episode would be the centerpiece of the entire film, but in the end I was let down by sloppy storytelling, a story patterned loosely after Nicholas Cage’s Knowing, with the episode title not even being properly explained and connected to the story. The Unwanted, penned by Roy Iglesias seemed to be just an excuse to show off on CGI without regard for the episode’s general impact on the movie, which in my opinion pulled it down instead of pushed it up.
All in all, SRR Fourteen was not able to sustain its strong beginning because of a deteriorating storyline that left more questions than answers. People will talk about it and debate about it in the end, which for some movies is a good indication of success. But for this movie, it will be all for the wrong reasons.