Ayos naman ang suspense element at magaling ang acting sa ‘Maria, Leonora, Teresa,’ pero may kulang. Panoorin lamang kung may oras ka para magpagulat o mapatili nang sandali. Huwag panoorin kung may expectation ka na hindi ka makakatulog nang mahimbing in the next few days; hindi sya ganung klase ng horror.
SYNOPSIS: To help deal with the grief after losing their daughters to a tragic accident, a psychiatrist each gives Faith (Iza Calzado), Julio (Zanjoe Marudo), and Stella (Jodi Sta. Maria) life-sized dolls representing their departed young ones. But when a series of sinister events start happening around them, Faith, Julio, and Stella realize that their dolls may be more than just “life-like.”
GENRE: Horror, Suspense, Drama
DIRECTOR: Wenn V. Deramas
WRITERS: Wenn V. Deramas, Keiko Aquino
CAST: Iza Calzado | Zanjoe Marudo | Jodi Sta. Maria | Dante Ponce vJoem Bascon | Maria Isabel Lopez | Chris Villanueva | Rhed Bustamante | Jonicka Cyleen Movido | Juvy Lyn Bison | Marco Masa | Joey Paras | Tess Antonio | Eagle Riggs | Dang Cruz | Niña Dolino | Robert Bermudez
During the 1970’s, Maria Leonora Theresa refers to the 3-foot tall doll that was the supposed “love child” of then power-couple Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III (better known then as “Guy and Pip”). During her heyday, Maria Leonora Theresa, appeared in movies, had a song about her sung by her “father,” had an advice column, and worshipped by Noranians far and wide. She was a doll who, to some extent, lived. She even has her own IMDb page.
It is not a stretch, therefore, to assume that Maria Leonora Theresa’s story is the inspiration of the latest Star Cinema film, Maria, Leonora, Teresa, which has dolls that, also to some extent, live. But the similarities end there. This movie, after all, is of the suspense/horror genre.
Maria, Leonora, Teresa starts by introducing the three titular characters (played by Rhed Bustamante, Jonicka Cyleen Movido, and Juvy Lyn Bison, respectively) before killing them off when their bus en route to a field trip went over a bridge. The focus then shifts to the main characters of the story: their grieving parents Faith (Iza Calzado), Julio (Zanjoe Marudo), and Stella (Jodi Sta. Maria). These three each receives a life-sized, and really creepy-looking doll resembling their departed daughters, supposedly as a from of a psychiatric experiment to help them with the coping process. This is when the “horror” begins: what started out as a doll “moving” from one place to another escalates to more sinister events.
Despite its attempts
at suspense and gore,
MLT does not seem
to fully commit to it.
The term “horror” is used loosely here because despite its attempts at suspense and gore, MLT does not seem to fully commit to it. Sure, there are a lot of moments throughout the movie that will make the audience squirm in their seats or jump out of it, but those are done as if ticking off items in a checklist. Is the victim alone? Check. Did the lights suddenly go out? Check. Is the attack coming from behind? Check.
Perhaps the fear factor would have been more effective had the movie stuck with the creepy inanimate dolls throughout the film, instead of “transforming” them to children with doll-masks (the makeup/prosthetics did not help much on this). Think about it: from a visual standpoint, isn’t it scarier to see a blank-faced mannequin just sitting idly while an “accident” befalls its victim, instead of the child-doll talking first before committing the crime? The audience knows and sees who did it, no explanations required.
(Incidentally, exposition is another thing that can be improved in this film. There are scenes that suffer from too much explanation from the characters, even if the pictures are already telling the audience the story.)
Maria, Leonora, Teresa appears to be director Wenn V. Deramas’s first foray into the horror genre, which may explain some of the film’s shortcomings. But as his previous works show (Maalala Mo Kaya, Praybeyt Benjamin), where he shines is bringing out the “drama” in a scene. At its core, this movie explores the different facets of how parents deal with a loss of a child. The scene of the aftermath of the bus crash fully depicts this, and kudos to Sta. Maria, Calzado, and the rest of the actors for depicting practically all the five stages of grief. Now that is a horrifying scene.
Will this movie spook the audience? Yes. Will they lose sleep because of it? Not really. ♦