The 40th Metro Manila Film Festivals is rife with follow ups to popular horror franchises and this year, among the entries is the sequel to one of the most successful Filipino horror movies of all time, director Chito Rono’s Feng Shui. The sequel, unlike other franchises, took its sweet time to develop and 10 years after the original’s release, Kris Aquino’s character Joy Ramirez returns to the big screen to end (?) the reign of the cursed Bagua that took her family a decade ago.
Lester Anonuevo (Coco Martin), is a young man from the squatters’ area trying to support his alcoholic mother and make ends meet by whatever means possible. He is hired by a Chinese family to steal a mysterious item from the Taoist temple for a fee and he completes the job without any incident, except that he took a peek at the item (the cursed bagua) before turning it over to his employers. And so begins the new wave of good luck and subsequent horror caused by the raging spirit of Lotus Feet. This time, the stakes are higher as Lotus Feet is able to strengthen her powers by taking one of her kin in her killing spree. Now, all the surviving owners (past and present) must work together to put to rest the curse of the bagua.
There was a reason the original Feng Shui movie was so good. And that was because it managed to tap into the Filipinos’ innate nature to believe in anything that will bring them good luck (the reason why many Filipinos engage in good luck rituals on Chinese New Year), and because Chinese tradition is so closely linked to Filipinos because of the sheer number of Filipino Chinese community in the Philippines.
When director Chito Rono came out with the story of the bagua that took its victims based on their Chinese zodiac, it was an immediate hit because not only could viewers relate to the tale but because the story was so strong that the excellent execution of the horror was just a bonus.
In the 10 years that followed after Feng Shui’s release, the film was able to build such a solid following that nobody in the audience of the second movie needed an explanation on the mechanics of the Lotus Feet curse, and this worked well for the sequel as it didn’t need too long of a sequence to connect the two movies. Everybody was on the same page from the moment they entered the cinema. Everybody knew what to expect and it felt familiar — like visiting an old friend after 10 years.
Suffice to say, the first film was still better but the second movie was no laggard in serving up the scares. What I liked about the movie was that it remained consistent with the first that you could watch them one after the other and still feel like they’re of a similar vein.
It also chose its moments, building up and shocking the audience time and again. While the death scenes in the first movie were much more obvious in their connection with the Chinese zodiacs, Feng Shui 2 did make up for it by killing off people in style. It also did not overdo the CGI, and used good make up and effects that made deaths more credible. Still, there were some scenes that were more comedic than menacing without intending to but more than anything, it made the film more entertaining.
What’s great about Feng Shui 2 was the inclusion of Kris Aquino in a more subdued version of her character. As part of the Feng Shui legacy, she owned her scenes but made sure to give the floor to Coco Martin, the main star of the movie as much as possible. Mr. Liao (Joonee Gamboa) was also given a much lengthier and substantial role in the sequel and I really enjoyed his narrative way of speaking (I felt like Panday was going to appear any minute).
Of course, as with the first movie, there were product placements of the brands that Kris Aquino endorsed but this time around, they were more tastefully done and more subtle in their inclusion.
All in all, Feng Shui 2 was a great sequel to the 2004 horror hit. While it failed to win big at the awards, it was able to hold up the franchise and turn up a solid and entertaining horror film that brought the story full circle, ending it on a positive note.