Dark, gripping, and thought-provoking. Dodo Dayao’s first jab at filmmaking is a technical masterpiece. Dinala tayo ng Violator sa dimensiyon kung saan ang konsepto ng horror ay hindi nalilimita sa mga halimaw, sa multong gustong maghiganti, at sa mga engkanto. This movie takes Pinoy horror to new heights and it’s the kind that you won’t soon forget.
SYNOPSIS: Manila is besieged by the worst typhoon to hit the country. Talk of the world coming to an end hangs in the air. And five men find themselves stranded inside a police station with a prisoner who may or may not be the devil. It’s going to be a long night. (from IMDB)
GENRE: Horror, Thriller
DIRECTOR: Dodo Dayao
CAST: Joel Lamangan | Victor Neri | RK Bagatsing |Andy Bais | Anthony Falcon | Timothy Mabalot
Hindi tayo dapat nagpapasok ng kalaban.
Alam mo ‘yung feeling na naglalakad ka sa madilim at unfamiliar na hallway? Not a sound can be heard but your own breathing and the clacking of your shoes. At sa bawat hakbang mo, umiigting ‘yung pakiramdam na may nakatingin, kaya bibilisan mo na lang ang lakad mo hanggang sa malaman mong kumakaripas ka na paalis sa lugar na ‘yun.
When you enter the cinema, you’ll sit through more than 100 minutes of that. That’s the kind of horror that Violator masterfully played with. It’s not the kind na kelangan may maligno o kapre, o kaya naman pumapatay na bagwa, o (most recently presented in a movie although really dated material) a chain mail from a vengeful ghost. Instead, you’ll be conquered by the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen next. No jump scares, no visual effects, just pure psychological terror.
Sa Violator (nanalong Best Picture at the 2014 Cinema One Originals) tinalakay ang isang pang-universal na concept: fear. Ano ba ang kinatatakutan mo? Commitment? Death? The discovery of your most kept secrets? ‘Yung pagkakawalay sa mga mahal sa buhay? Pagkawala ng kabuhayan? O end of the world? Period. These levels of fear were carefully laid out via a mosaic of characters, as unrelated as they may have seemed, before coalescing into one scene that leads to one climactic end.
Inilatag ni Dayao ang ilang vignettes na kung tutuusin ay wala naman talagang kinalaman sa isa’t isa pero ginawa niya ito to effectively build a certain atmosphere of discomfort, a yearning for answers. ‘Yung bang tipong sisigaw ka in one scene and then you’ll ask “Sino naman ‘tong mga to?” on the other. This narrative technique is a double-edged sword, pero in the case of Dayao, naitawid naman niya ang pagtahi ng mahabang prelude na ito to lead us to one dark, quiet night in Precint 13 with five men stuck and immobile in what is perceived as the end of the world.
Dodo Dayao’s debut film is a
on Pinoy horror
An old cop, Benito Alano (Joel Lamangan) is haunted by the ghost of his wife (Elizabeth Oropesa, although she appeared really briefly), and the idea of his looming demise. Knowing this, he has turned his back on his faith and has long since faced his nearing end. By happenstance naman, isang civilian (RK Bagatsing) complaining on a road mishap ang nastranded sa presinto sa gitna ng malakas na ulan. Lukas Manabat (Anthony Falcon), a police rookie, is dealing with the demands of a nagging girlfriend. Si Mang Vic naman, ang janitor ng presinto ang nagsisilbing witness sa lahat ng mga nangyayari sa loob ng narrow, isolated space na iyon. Later on, mas makikilala natin siya at makikiusyoso tayo sa bagaheng dala dala na ‘di kalaunan ay mauungkat at magdadala sa climactic end ng pelikula. Si Gil Pring (Victor Neri) naman—isang police transferee na kinakaharap ang disciplinary action maging ang kaniyang konsensiya sa maling gawi ng grupong kinabilangan niya—ang magsisilbing tulay para ma-infiltrate ang confines ng presintong ito at ng disconnected characters nito ng personification of the devil. Ang batang kalyeng si Nathan Payumo ang idedetain sa Precint 13—someone who has been called for being possessed by the devil: the violator in search of his new kill.
In a way, kung anumang kalat-kalat at hiwa-hiwalay ng surreal images of death and haunting sa unang half ng pelikula, ini-contain ito ng narrative into a denouement that forayed into a deeper dialogue on morality, sin, and faith. This simply compounded that sense of finality, mas pinatinding sense of horror.
Ayun nga siguro ang idea ng “horror” para kay Dayao—the highest form there is. Di lang ito tungkol sa takot sa kamatayan, sa kulto, o sa katapusan ng mundo. The scariest thing is to wake up one day and stare at your inner demons shaking the foundations of everything you think you know and believe.
In so many levels, Dodo Dayao’s debut film is a sophisticated take on Pinoy horror and he does this so exquisitely with a technique of long takes accompanied by a haunting musical score. Maayos ring naitimpla nina Albert Banzon at Gym Lumbera ang kulay at treatment ng pelikula to build an eerie dimension. Carefully staged at executed ang mga frames at effective na nai-build ng long establishing at steady shots ang tension to explode into its culminating scene with fast cuts that amplified that darker, even more maddening atmosphere.
Commendable ang pag-arte ng ensemble of cast at stand-out sina Joel Lamangan at Anthony Falcon sa restrained at natural pero well-rounded portrayals nila. Pinakamahina naman, in a way, ang pagarte ni Timothy Mabalot, na naka-angkla sa stereotypes ang pagganap ng evil. Kung siya ang pagsasatao ng demonyo, dapat mabigat at may lalim ang dating niya kahit wala pang linya. He did not embody it that much.
Hindi man siguro para sa lahat ang pelikula, what with its rather unconventional approach not just to its genre, sa kaniyang narrative, but on filmmaking in general, plus points naman para sa freshman director ang undeniable strong technical mastery niya of his craft. Interesting to see kung san niya dadalhin ang mga susunod pa niyang cinematic ventures. ♦