Sunday, April 15, 2018

Shake Rattle and Roll 9 – review

Director: Topel Lee (segment)

Release date: 2007

Contains spoilers

The ninth in the long running Philippine series of horror anthologies, I have to admit that I didn’t watch this with the view of catching a vampire segment. Having read the blurb it didn’t sound that we should be interested in this from a vamp point of view. Then a clearly vampire segment came along and thus we have a review.

So, the three segments run along the lines of: Christmas Tree, a segment about a man-eating Christmas tree, I kid you not, that is silly, fun and features the always amusing John Lapus, Bangungot, which is a surreal little entry about a jealous woman trapping both her and her unrequited love in each other’s nightmares, and Engkanto. Now the engkanto is a traditional Philippine mythological creature that, in folklore, is a spirit that perhaps resembles faery creatures. In this it was definitely vampiric – no ‘Vamp or Not?’ necessary.

Jewel Mische as Tonee
So we begin with a mini-bus driving down a forest road. The driver is Hans (Jojo Alejar), the bus belongs to a goth band and he is the manager. It should be driven by Tikoy (Hector Macaso), who is also the band’s bouncer and (I assume) roadie, but he has hurt his arm. In the bus are Ian (Felix Roco) who is ignoring band member Tonee (Jewel Mische), she texts Drummer Dang (Melissa Ricks) who would seem to be in a shaky relationship with band frontman (and general arrogant asshole) Vince (Martin Escudero, Shake Rattle and Roll 12 & Shake rattle and Roll Fourteen – the Invasion). The last person on the bus, Richard (Matt Evans), does not seem to be a band member, is an artist and is being bullied by Vince. They are lost.

Dang and Vince
They stop at a roadside shop where a drunken man warns them that there is no town ahead and that they should be weary of an enchantress – who is our engkanto (Katrina Halili) – the creature has taken his son (Sam Concepcion). As things continue the ructions in the band increase as Ian thinks Tonee is overtly serious and possessive and Dang discovers that Vince has stolen the band's money from gigs to cut a solo demo and intends to leave the band. Tonee notices they keep passing the same “creepy” tree and they eventually run out of fuel and stumble across an abandoned resort.

sucking breath
Of course, this mystical inability to leave the area is much to do with the engkanto and we get the following lore. Appearing as a beautiful woman she can transform into a creature with a mouthful of fangs and pointed ears. Though she does bite with her fangs the more vampiric element is that she sucks the breath of her victims. It isn’t entirely clear if it is the breath sucking or biting (or either) that then turns the victims into revenants/zombies, who are at her command. She has magical powers and the man’s son is still alive but she has sealed his mouth shut with magic.

fangs on display
Although she is a spirit of nature, technically, she is definitely dark. We do discover that she can fly. She will not enter the sea (presumably because of the salt and not the water itself), nor will her revenants. She is tied to the creepy tree, which has faces in its bark (perhaps her victims) and they discover that burning the tree down ages her to a crone and would seem to kill her at which point her undead victims turn to dust. But could a creature so tied to the local nature actually die because of the death of one tree in a forest?

This was quite good as far as it went. The peril, when we got to it, was handled well but the band members were mostly annoying and one got the feeling that they were play-acting being goth (which, of course, they were). More could have been done round the inescapable forest and more of an atmosphere could have been built around that. The abandoned resort was a great location and under-used to some degree. That said, it wasn’t at all bad. 4.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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