I had no idea what this film was about entering the cinema except that it was a low budget film produced by Quantum Films, MJM Productions Inc, Tuko Film Productions, and Buchi Boy Films. I had an idea that it was a horror comedy because of the cast — Vhong Navarro, Alex Gonzaga, John “Sweet” Lapuz, and I guessed that it had something to do with dealing with the devil but that was about it.
After seeing it, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the movie because it wasn’t just a mix of funny and scary, it had a great concept and good execution by indie director Randolph Longjas which became an impressive foray into the Metro Manila Film Festival.
Buy Now, Die Later revolves around a mysterious shop owned by Santi (TJ Trinidad) but the shop only appears to those who really need it. The place is filled with a myriad of goods, mostly antiques that give the buyers their hearts’ desires. But it comes at a cost, which is not fully disclosed by the shopkeep. Because they want to become successful, they sign the contracts anyway and discover that in order to continue benefiting from the deal, they must do the unthinkable and accept the inevitable.
Basically, Buy Now Die Later is an episodic film that is interconnected by the shop and later by the characters as their lives intersect with each other. The episodes deal with the five senses — Vhong, who plays a photojournalist Odie gets a camera that gives him leads into the latest high profile crimes and tackles the sense of sight; Alex plays wannabe superstar Chloe, who gets a high tech phone that not only gives her a great singing voice but also follows her commands; Sweet plays Philip/Pippa, Chloe’s gay fan who gets a bottle of perfume that draws hordes of men to him; Ato (Rayver Cruz) is a restaurateur who gets a recipe book that makes his restaurant a success, and Lotlot de Leon plays Maita, Chloe’s mother and former beauty queen who wants to relive her glory days by getting a cream that will restore her youth temporarily.
Check out the trailer here:
The film takes off at breakneck speed. From the opening credits, it already impresses not only with great editing, but with great setting. The shots were great, and was accompanied by great scoring. Santi’s shop was tastefully done, blending the spooky with the classy without going overboard. The set pieces and props were great. I think this alone spoke of the attention to detail that the filmmakers had in order to produce a good result.
The film was already interesting from the start but it started to get even more so when the stories and the characters started crossing over with each other’s episodes.
My favorite episodes were John Lapus’ episode Halimuyak because it was funny as heck. This episode was hilarious and witty and really brought the fun to the movie — Rayver’s episode Sarap was also good because of the surprise twist, and Vhong’s episode was cool because it was dark and mysterious.
Its true that the episodes weren’t exactly original because the stories were obviously inspired by Stephen King horror Needful Things, Patrick Suskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Thailand’s hit horror Shutter, Midnight Meat Train and maybe elements of Nightmare on Elm Street but they were executed with a Filipino flavor which was a good thing for the movie and gave it a definite sense of uniqueness.
But while I was a big fan of Sweet’s portrayal as Philip and Pippa, I thought Alex Gonzaga’s Chloe left a lot to be desired. I didn’t find her funny and thought that she had a one dimensional approach to all her scenes. TJ Trinidad, on the other hand, was perfect for the role of Santi. For a good looking guy, he adopted the role of the devil and embraced his role with the glare, the smirk. I actually thought that the film could have done away with his transformation in the end and just stuck with some pale make up and bloodshot eyes.
All in all, the film was far from perfect, but it was an impressive horror offering. It was so much better than many other films in its genre and a must watch for horror fans of the MMFF. It started with a great idea, got the right team to work on it from the production to the cast, and came out a winner in my book.