This is NOT a review of Tiktik The Aswang Chronicles

Day Off + Spare Ticket + Being Alone + Opening Day =

Sometimes, there would be a day when everything fits snugly into place. My work week has just concluded (which ironically starts on a Friday) and I have one leftover movie pass won over those monthly raffles at work. I didn’t bother asking anyone, and I honestly think it was all for the best and would have probably just spoiled the day if I insisted to, seeing that everyone else is interested in watching This Guy’s in Love With U Mare instead.

image courtesy of Beerkada.net

When it comes to fantasy movies directed by Erik Matti, the first thing you’ll expect is that it’s going to be a visual feast. Such was the case with his previous works, namely Exodus, Pa-Siyam and Rounin (a TV series). And true enough, Tiktik did not disappoint. In fact, it has the best visual effects yet to be seen on a Filipino movie. It’s almost unbelievable that many sceneries in the movie were computer-generated, or when mixed with actual locations, blended pretty well. The dead forest surrounding the forest was obviously CGI, but this one is difficult to assess:

tiktik

The movie used a limited palette that used more shades than Christian Grey (at least they also used sepia) to capture the somber mood of the film.

But whereas the scenery shots are amazing, when it comes to the monster effects, I have mixed reactions. I liked the fire and “ash” (um, soot seemed to be the more appropriate word) effects when the monsters disintegrate. However, this movie also suffered from a common complaint I have on gfx-heavy movies: I really don’t get the point of enemy transforming into more grotesque forms once they “level up”, I have always thought it’s a complete waste of CGI to render these monstrosities. The “Final Boss” also looked like a generic winged creature from some unfinished RPG. If it’s not asking too heavily, they should have came up with something that’s closer to our culture to represent the titular monster. Finally, I don’t know who started the whole disgusting == scary idea, because it no longer is. The movie is swimming with excessive gore from all those decapitations and bloody internal organs being ripped out of bodies; and they are completely unnecessary. At least the movie compensated here through terrifying monster transformations, with complementary “foaming” in the mouth (which is also computer-generated, riiiight?)

This made the movie kind of videogame-y. The whole assault at the house seemed like a tower defense game, with the protagonists making fortifications and eventually patching the holes in their defense. If this was really a game, I could have felt the drastic increase in difficulty, seeing just how your defense is about to crumble and then you have to contend with a fresh “army.” It even follows the mechanism for this genre, which is dealing with unlimited enemies in a given time frame.

But despite the mediocre plot, the plot still shines, thanks to its excellent casting. The movie found its magical formula: the casting is minimal, and all the characters are memorable, and well-acted upon. It’s refreshing to watch a film with complete character closure and a non-divisive plot that’s completely devoid of side stories. My favorite scene was the one that took place at dinnertime, and I got high listening to two minutes of Fely’s banter against Macky. Which is why it is saddening when Fely got turned into an aswang after being infected by the saliva of one of the aswangs. Just kidding! She just died after being overpowered by Kulas, which is a shame considering that when she punched him during their Boo! moment, it was one of the most unintentionally funny scene on the film. Even the support characters had their shining moments: the fat aswang who generated a lot of laughs from the viewers, Abel with his innovative blowgun used in the climactic final battle and even the shady sari-sari store owner, Aling Pacing. Even Ramon Bautista, in his first acting role, delivered well.

* * *

Tiktik will also be published as a graphic novel, and the success of the film would hopefully be the push needed to produce more original Filipino content. Graphic novels were the natural evolution of comics, and they are an integral part of Philippine literary culture. It’s great that we’re seeing a resurgence of this medium. Zsa Zsa Zatturnah was already filmed, but I can’t wait to see Trese, Skyworld, Elmer and many other titles to appear on the silver screen. Making this film was indeed a great risk, but seeing the movie, I can easily conclude that it paid off. I was glad I saw this film.

* * *

Postscripts:

  • It was a wise move to air this movie outside of MMFF, it could have met the same fate as Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, which got steamrolled by more “mainstream” entries.

  • I can’t believe I have completely forgotten about excellent soundtrack of the movie! The two Wolfgang tracks were perfect for the action scenes, and so is Luha (sung by Kapatid), the track played during the end credits. Now if only I could get my hands on the film’s instrumental score.

  • This is actually a repost. It’s heart-breaking to see two hours worth of labor go nowhere, after getting bitten by a nasty bug in my blogging client which occurs if you edit an entry, destroying the <!—more—> tag and commenting out everything below it, i.e. the substance of this post. It was painful rebuilding this post, and it took more than 3 hours of brooding before I started reworking on it.

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