For several years now, my brother, sis-in-law and I have built a tradition during Christmas-time to support local cinema by watching the Metro Manila Film Festival. A part of our viewing staple is always watching an installment of the Shake Rattle and Roll franchise. To be honest, there are hits and a lot of misses with this horror anthology but there are years where they deliver real gems. This year’s offering is somewhere in between.
In the Ahas episode, Erich Gonzales stars as twins Sandra and Sarah Alegria, one of which is a snake-like monster who preys on the customers of their family’s shopping mall. In the Ulam episode, Henry (Dennis Trillo), Aimee (Carla Abellana) and their daughter move in to Henry’s family home when his grandmother dies of mysterious causes. Pretty soon, the happy family becomes prone to something that causes extreme paranoia and tears their family apart. In Flight 666, a red eye flight to Zamboanga falls prey not only to a hijacker and a bomb but also a hideous monster that is killing off the passengers one by one.
I must say that of all of the episodes, director Jerrold Tarog’s Ulam episode was the most visually appealing. It seemed like every scene was framed exquisitely and the director himself took care to build an air of suspense with the tone of the film. Of the three episodes though, his episode seemed like the most incomplete as the concentration seemed not to be in telling a story but rather in framing each shot perfectly. (Note: Tarog also directed one of SRR 12’s Punerarya episode, which was totally awesome)
Dondon Santos’s Ahas episode was successfully executed and was based on a pretty solid story, which was already a feat considering that Erich is one of the most annoying to watch celebrities (as a matter of personal opinion).
Flight 666 by director Percival Intalan on the other hand, was straight up one of SRR’s signature scare-a-thons, with a bunch of people running around a confined space being attacked by an evil monster baby. There were standouts in this episode, among them Kim Atienza, who, although did not step away from his persona as a trivia host, still provided some entertaining moments in the film. The common factor that threads the films together is the character of John Lapuz and he was great comic relief in all three.
This year, the common problem that is consistent in all of the episodes is actually the lack of originality. Ahas was based on an 80s urban legend. The creatures were patterned from Hollywood monsters. I dare you not to look at the Ahas snake and not think of Predator, or the deformed monster in Ulam and not see Ephiliates from 300. How can can we forget the tiyanak in Flight 666 and Gollum? Another repeated problem of this franchise is the heavy reliance of graphics especially for the final episodes.
Its true that the use of different directors offer different flavors and perspectives in the horror genre, but this goal is defeated if the studios do not give them new and innovative materials in future offerings. And if this happens, even the horror formula that it has successfully cultivated in all of its years will lose its effect even on horror afficionados.
All in all, because of the strong following of the franchise, SRR will never be a box office bust, but if it plans to continue the franchise on a yearly basis, it needs to step up its creativity (not the number of bankable stars) or simply settle for average, which is what this installment became.