Monday, October 04, 2010

Shake Rattle and Roll 8 – review

Director: Topel Lee (segment Yaya)

Release date: 2006

Contains spoilers

The Shake Rattle and Roll series are something of an institution in the Philippines. Anthology films of three parts it is the second segment, Yaya, which interests us.

The other two segments are 13th Floor, a ghost story that was a little too cutesy/comedy to be scary and LRT, a creature feature that demanded a lot more gore but featured a rather interesting blind monster.

vegetation dies
Yaya, or the Nanny, was an aswang orientated film. At the beginning of the segment we see the detail of a woman’s hand as she walks through vegetation. The vegetation withers and dies. We then meet the child Benjo (Nash Aguas) who was a little too mischievous for his own good. His stunts cause the nanny Arlyn (Nene Tamayo) to leave the employ of his mum Grace (Sheryl Cruz). This leaves her in a quandary as she needs a nanny to look after Benjo and his sister Kyla (Jillian Usero). She works nights in a call centre and dad works away. For some reason housekeeper Mrs Hermia (Babraliz) and cousin (and driver) Julio (Boom Lambrusca) can’t help.

pupil's like a cat's
As it happens her mother sends a nanny called Cecille (Iza Calzado) to them. When she meets Benjo, his dog Toby comes in and starts barking at her. She turns to it, out of sight of the family members, and her pupils become cat like slits. Clearly this is no human nanny and she avoids the questions about Grace’s mother. When she holds Kyla the baby cries and she wafts at it, it appears she is wafting the scent as though the baby will be her next meal…

long tongue
Benjo becomes suspicious when he sees her burning something (the real Cecille’s identification card) and a face morphs out of her back. This was one of the stranger lore moments and went unanswered as to what that might represent. He asks his teacher Mr. Mel (T J Trinidad, Patient X) about aswang – all he knows is that they eat babies and livers (and we have seen her long aswang tongue as she look in over the cot).

face in her back
The other lore we get is that they can turn into birds or pigs (Cecille takes bird form, though we only see silhouettes). They can enter churches but have to leave when the host and wine are blessed – later Benjo gets some holy water in a rather Lost Boys-like moment. He is told that citrus will prevent an aswangs wound from rapid healing. When later he throws what looks like orange juice in the creature’s face, and it burns, I wondered whether he made it with the holy water (that was otherwise unused).

aswang comes...
They avoid garlic, onions and salt and the way to know if an aswang is there is by means of a special oil that boils in their presence, a “Tak, Tak” sound or by looking in their eyes and seeing your reflection inverted. To kill them they must be stabbed through the heart with a weapon made of kawayan (bamboo). Of course, with a brownout due, the aswang is sure to try and make a meal of the family…

stretchy jaw
The problem with this was it just didn’t build any tension. We know who the aswang is, the subsequent clues are therefore redundant. The integration into the family seemed a pointless exercise. However it was a nicely shot piece, Nash Aguas makes for a not too annoying child lead and it is always nice to see an aswang. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Sguffalo Bill said...

hellou, Sguffalo, the holy vampire, is here. Congratulations for this post.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Thanks Sguffalo Bill