The Strangers: A Review

TheStrangersThe Strangers, not to be confused with the Hollywood movie of the same name starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman released in 2008, is a Filipino horror movie set in the fictional village of Kapitugan, where a family — twins Max (Enrique Gil) and Pat (Julia Montes), their parents Roy (Johnny Revilla) and Evelyn (Cherry Pie Pichache), grandfather (Jaime Fabregas), caregiver Paloma (Janice de Belen) and driver — travelling to the town of Murcia for an unknown reason, experience car trouble and get stuck in the middle of nowhere. They are later found by villagers  (JM de Guzman, Art Acuna) who act suspiciously like cannibals and encounter Dolpho (Enchong Dee), a kasador, who villagers suspect to be an aswang, a mythical creature who feasts on human flesh and travel from town to town to victimize the locals.

One thing that I have to say about The Strangers — the cinematography is very good. The framing of each scene was excellent and compared to other Filipino horrors who fall into the trap of overdoing the darkness in some scenes, The Strangers had the right blend of lighting to enable viewers to see what was going on amid the chaos. While the CGI for the aswang was not perfect, I have to give credit to the creative team for not adopting the designs of Hollywood monsters for local mythical creatures.

As for the storytelling, I had the feeling that that filmmakers were gunning for the shocking twist in the end to be the film’s climax but unfortunately, they tried to establish one side of the story too much that by the end of the first 30 minutes, enough clues have been left behind for viewers to get a good idea what the eventual twist would be. Filmmakers also neglected to flesh out the other side of the story which they started to do but failed to close. In the end, it would seem that even the Kapitugan angle, which they have been selling since the first release of the trailer, was only a plot to mislead the audiences, just as the kasador angle was.

All in all, The Strangers was a slow moving horror, but it managed to tell a whole story and execution-wise, it was not too shabby. The movie could benefit from some improvement, especially in the last few minutes, but it was a good attempt from director Lawrence Fajardo. By the way, The Strangers is an official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival 2012.