Friday, October 27, 2017

Tiyanaks – review

Director: Mark A. Reyes

Release date: 2007

Contains spoilers

A little like Super Inday and the Golden Bibe, this film ages the tiyanak (or tiyanaks, plural, in this) to young children rather than babies, so as to give the human form of the creature a less passive role than in their infant form – although we do see a baby tiyanak in the prologue.

What it also does is change the tiyanaks so that they perhaps do not look as we would expect – tying them into elements – and this was likely to make them more interesting. We’ll look at these changes later.

Gabriel the tiyanak
But, as I mentioned, we do get a more standard tiyanak in the prologue. The film starts with a recital in Latin and we are told that such prayers are used to fight aswang, tiyanak and kapre (kapre being an ent-like monster from Filipino mythology). A mother holds her baby as she speaks on the phone. Through the conversation we discover that Gabriel, the baby, is adopted. She places the baby in a play pen whilst she goes to have a bath. When she gets out the baby is gone and she searches frantically for him – but he is hunting her…

Gabriel hunting
This would seem to be a tale being recited by Professor Earl (TJ Trinidad, Patient X) to his folklore class, amongst whom is Christian (Mark Herras), the brother of Earl’s girlfriend Sheila (Rica Peralejo). He tells them that the tiyanaks are children who died without being baptized and they are unable to go to heaven unless they are blessed and introduced to God. He also informs them that they use pity (and maternal instincts) to hunt hence taking the form of babies.

Sheila's dream
Sheila is due to take Christian and some friends to a retreat for the Easter weekend. However she is also having bad dreams about a little girl (Mika Dela Cruz, Ang Darling Kong Aswang) and fiery pentagrams and Stars of David. She tells Earl about the dreams. Amongst the group of kids going to the retreat is Hans (Jill Yulo), whose boyfriend Bryan (Alwyn Uytingco) isn’t going (if he were, her father would have prevented her from going). However, he follows the group on his motorbike.

cross with hidden dagger
The mini bus driver (Tom Olivar, Shake Rattle and Roll 8) takes a wrong turn and they become lost and then break down. The only place nearby is an old house, which they go to. No one answers when they knock so they enter and discover that there are lit candles, religious icons and a cross that is also a dagger (used for exorcisms). The resident of the house, Mildred (Lotlot De Leon), makes herself known and doesn’t seem happy about their presence but she reluctantly lets them stay. She lives there with her son Biboy (Nash Aguas, also Shake Rattle and Roll 8 & Shake Rattle and Roll 12).

the water tiyanak
So, haunting the area are three tiyanaks whose human forms are young children (who play with Biboy) but their monster forms are very different to each other and they are related to elements – air, earth and water. When Earl arrives to save the day he suggests that the tiyanaks have evolved but we also hear that they were children who died in accidents when the house was an orphanage – one drowning, for instance, and thus taking on water traits. There is a bat like look to the air tiyanak. Their aim seems pretty much to kill rather than feed.

effect of holy water 
There was a nice lore moment regarding their ability to enter the house, given the number of icons on display. As it is Easter then, from the Friday, God is dead until Christ rises on the third day – thus the icons have no impact. This does not hold true consistently, however. The Tiyanaks will not enter a graveyard as it is hallowed ground, a rosary wrapped around a limb burns, they can be blessed and holy water works against them, causing them to go up in flames.

atypical horror movie teens
It was perhaps in this mismatching of the lore that there was a weakness. Other than that this was a little creature feature with atypical teens-in-horror-movies. The effects were ok but nothing special, though the tiyanaks could verge on the silly and were more effective when you saw less of them. One wonders how Earl managed to follow the exact wrong turn that the others did and thus find them, but hey-ho. Overall this wasn’t a bad way to spend 90 minutes. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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