Old, tired, and disappointing. ‘Chain Mail‘ talks about a material so old that it ended up becoming a ludicrous attempt to make something out of nothing. Kalat, di buo, at walang direksyon. Hindi ito ang pelikula para sa mga taong naghahanap ng panibagong timpla sa Pinoy horror films.
SYNOPSIS: (from its official YouTube page) “PLEASE PASS! DON’T IGNORE!”
A usual chain mail is forwarded to a group of people. Some pass it while others ignore. One dies and is followed by a series of sudden and unexplainable deaths of others. Soon after, a revelation begins to unfold, the chain mail is cursed and so she has to find the origin and mystery behind to stop the misfortunes it may cause to anyone who fails to pass it before another life perish again. Sandra also suspects Anne is behind the tragic incidents that happened to their friends.
Will she break the curse before it’s too late or will she become one of the victims?
GENRE: Horror, Suspense
DIRECTOR: Adolfo Alix Jr.
CAST: Meg Imperial | Shy Carlos | AJ Muhlach | Rose Van Ginkel | Caleb Santos | Nadine Lustre
I can think of a number of reasons why Chain Mail actually lived up to what the title warned us that it would be. The mere concept of a cursed chain email in a social-media-driven world we live in right now feels a decade (or more) late to be translated on-screen. With this in mind, the movie is doomed to fail—and it did (probably why it lasted less than two weeks at the tills).
For one, premise pa lang based sa trailer, (correction, sa title pa lang), Chain Mail looked every bit a rehashed film material forced to work by a film outfit (Viva Films) that needed its shelved artists to appear on “something”. At least one would hope that this isn’t true—until spending more than 90 minutes watching it and confirming earlier qualms about it.
Like an annoying chain letter, napagpasa-pasahan na ang ganitong mga materyal. While macoconsider na matapang ang kung sinumang magattempt na talakayin ang konseptong dati nang nagawa, in return, one would expect na dapat may intensyong magbigay ng panibagong atake sa napaglumaan nang plot. Hindi ganun ang nangyari sa Chain Mail, or to put it bluntly, dun nag-fail si Adolfo Alix.
In a word, Chain Mail is a poor copy of every tired horror film plot imaginable. More specifically, think, 2010’s Hollywood slasher flick, Chain Letter. Also noteworthy is the uncanny semblance of the film’s gored up, vengeful ghost to one of Chain Letter’s ghosts.
Magsisimula ang pelikula sa isang freak accident kung saan isa sa mga casualties si Anne (played by Nadine Lustre) sa pagsalpok ng isang pampasaherong jeepney sa, lo and behold, isang Internet shop kung saan nagbabasa ng email nya si Anne. Following this tragedy, her bestfriend, Sandra (Shy Carlos) begins to see “things”: bloody sightings, mutilated corpses, whispering ghosts, the works.
This goes on for a while until one death snowballs into another, and by some weird line of reasoning, they end up concluding, without any form of subtlety whatsoever, that it is all because of a chain mail. Unbelievable as it sounds, they all agreed that the curse did come from a forwarded email. Send the e-mail to seven people in nine days (sounds familiar?), you get unbelievable luck, ignore it, then you end up in a gory death sequence. That’s when the cat-and-mouse game of finding the key to end the curse began (which happens during the last 20minutes of the film).
Again, like an annoying chain letter that requires to be sent to just about anyone you know, parang ganun ang reigning concept sa pagbuo ng pelikula. The screen writers, yes all four of them (including the director), just seemed to pack its script with every formulaic sequences they could think of, not minding how the narrative gets too convoluted to be absorbed by the viewers.
Di nakatulong sa pagprogress ng kuwento ang mga unnecessary subplots gaya ng household issues nila Sandra, maging ang pag-singit ng love angle sa characters nila Meg Imperial at AJ Muhlach. From the looks of it, it was merely driven for the purpose of testing the waters for these developing young love teams, probably for projects lined up in the future.
Connected to the contrived plot and overcooked script, ganun din ang problema sa supporting characters na parang kung san-san nanggaling. The cast got so bloated that not a single one of them actually gets developed. Di natin alam kung bakit kelangan natin sundan ang buhay ni Sandra, na isa lang sa mga taong nakatanggap ng chain mail. A lot of them gets screen time that, in the end, you’ll end up asking “Bakit sila andun?”
While Jackie Lou Blanco and John Regala played well as parents to the lead female protagonists, di natin sila ganung kakilala. Walang sense to it why their story gets highlighted. Pagdating sa attempt to resolve the whole thing, di najustify ng story kung bakit nagsayang ang narrative to zoom in on this subplot. In a scene, the back and forth of hurtful words led to actual physical violence. It was simply left out there, whether it gets addressed, the movie didn’t care to get to.
In the long run, you’ll realize, ganun ang kabuuan ng pelikula at mga characters we see, they are mere archetypes played to fill up plot requirements na hindi rin naman nakadadag puntos sa pagbuo ng pelikula. There are a number of characters that can be trimmed. Although doing this might not even help the problem areas of the material itself. Gaya ng mga naunang naging biktima ng sumpa ng email, di natin masusundan kung sino ang susunod at kung bakit siya ang magiging biktima.
The movie tried so much to give the creeps by banking into one image that, later on, grew tiring instead frightening. This, of course, can be directed to the director’s lack of passion to give something that would leave us hanging at the edge of our seats, weary of what’s to come. Not like the techniques employed by say a Chito Rono sa Feng Shui at sa Sukob, we were bombarded with apparitions and sightings (mapa-umaga man o tanghali, be in the open space or not) that, in the end, became more nakakatawa (yes, a number of laughs were heard inside the cinema) than nakakatakot. The ghost in question, physically, was not “scary”. It looks more like a sloppily-made mask than a mutilated corpse awaiting to exact revenge. Nagmistulan lang siyang amateurish attempt to showcase some “shock factor”.
The movie lacks heart to really give us an understanding why the curse is happening. Even with the exposition of the origin of the curse, di nabigyan ng justice ng script, ng treatment ng director at ng mga actor para mabigyan ng sagot ang lahat ng mga tanong ng mga manunuod. Medyo laudable ang hint of poetic justice kung bakit sa pamamagitan ng sumpa sa chain mail naghahanap ng katarungan ang character ng ex-girlfriend ng professor, played by Mark Bautista, na noon ay nagging biktima ng cyber scandal. The movie, however, lacked finessing to drive the point of the entire movie.
The movie technically looks okay. Cinematography was well-executed. The original score could actually work even greater if the director knew how to properly time it to illicit emotions from the viewers. May ilang instances where nabaon ang linya ng mga character sa overwhelming cheesy music, which was actually forced and displaced sa buong movie.
Kung gaano man ka-overcast ang movie, you’d hope there’s soul or talent in them. The only decent performance you can get is from Shy Carlos, although, a good director can still help her rein in emotions that she sometimes overcooks. Meg Imperial is somehow, ok. Although in general, di kelangan ang character niya sa movie. Kung gaano ka-uninspired at empty ang acting ni AJ Muhlach, ganun ka-exaggerated ang pagganap ni Prince Stefan, who actually plays an extremely unnecessary character.
Overall, isang malaking kasayangan ang Chain Mail, the worst in the fairly-okay resume of Adolfo Alix. The movie is uninspired and lacking in passion that it looks every bit a third-rate attempt to make money more than a good movie. ♦