Unleash Horror (Pinoy) in the world

FDCP President Liza at the Singapore premiere of ‘Eerie’.

Filipino cinema has developed a rich tradition of horror with its long list of masterpieces. Some characters have become fond, albeit frightening, childhood memories.

Just ask your Tita for her favorite episode of “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” (SRR). She can tell you the story of Manilyn Reynes going to a remote village at the invitation of her friend for their town party. Guess which (or who) will be the main course.

Also, who can forget the Undine and who or what does “anak ni Janice” refer to? “Aswang” by master storyteller Peque Gallaga with Aiza Seguerra, Alma Moreno and again Manilyn Reynes, is unforgettable. Matet de Leon is another suki horror film starring “Takot Ako E”, “Halimaw sa Banga”, “Dalaw”, numerous episodes of SRR and many other performances to its name. Jean Garcia’s role as a manananggal also made him on the horror luminaries list. Our grandparents can share the stories of “Huwag mong Buhayin ang Bangkay” and “Patayin sa Sindak si Barbara”.

More recently, we were afraid of the moving santos of “Seklusyon”. After all, many of us have a statue of a smiling Santo Nino in our homes or an image of a saint or Christ whose eyes seem to follow us wherever we are in the room. Many of us still consider that sharing the same year of marriage with a brother or sister is unlucky; look what happened to the character of Kris Aquino in “Sukob!” The same goes with not going straight home after a vigil or funeral to prevent the ghost of the deceased from following us into our homes, as shown in Kathryn Bernardo-Daniel Padilla’s film, “Pagpag” .

Harnessing the Filipino psyche

The closer the film is to life, the more it touches home. Isn’t it also funny that when we were younger our classmates would tell how our schools were cemeteries? Or how an old building was a military garrison where many died in the war? What’s scary is that … it may be true.

The more it reflects real life scenes, the more spooky it looks because of the feeling that it can happen to you, too. And as in many other art forms, authenticity transcends the medium – in this case, it jumps off the screen and holds the viewer’s attention until they are at the edge of their seat in a terror and white-fisted anticipation.

International possibilities

On the heels of the Netflix streaming success of “Trese,” an animated offshoot of the hit Filipino comic book with the same title from Kajo Baldisimo and Budjette Tan, comes the planned television adaptation of Janus Silang by Edgar Samar. Both works draw on the rich treasure of Filipino mythology and folklore. This return to the Filipino myth is a recognition of the fruitfulness of our national imagination. This brand sells.

It’s worth watching our own myths, folklore, superstition, and urban legends as cinematic material. The horror, action, and horror action genre is salable both locally and internationally. The use of local colors breathes new life into the tired horror genre. Just watch “Ringu (The Ring) in Japan,” “Shutter” in Thailand, “The Eye” from Hongkong and “Ju-on (The Grudge)” and “Train to Busan” in Korea, to name a few. only a few. Some of the scariest films that have broken international box office records overseas are from Asia.

Have a Good Scare in FDCP's Stream and Scream

Have a Good Scare in FDCP’s Stream and Scream

If these movies could take the world by storm, I’m sure P-Horror has a chance to fight too.

Consistency is the key

In 2005, Yam Laranas’ “Sigaw” made its mark in Filipino cinema receiving a Singaporean and Malaysian release with the international title “The Echo”. The film also received a Hollywood remake in 2008, also directed by Laranas.

Mikhail Red’s “Eerie” is also noted as one of the first to have had an international co-production partner. The film was produced by Star Cinema with 108 Media of Singapore and premiered at the Singapore International Film Festival ahead of its theatrical release in the Philippines in March 2019.

Our local horror films have made brilliant attempts to globalize, its potential is beyond doubt, but it can also be said that attempts have been rare. In this goal of creating a stable market for our films, the key must be consistency. Our industry must be intentional in our goal of creating horror content that can be acceptable to a global audience, and maybe sooner rather than later, P-horror can experience the international success of Train to Busan or The Ring as well.

For the international market, this new vision lens, this fresh sensibility, offers a rawer, more visceral look at the world, therefore perhaps more poignant and exciting, especially compared to the more refined but sometimes stereotypical Hollywood horror films. .

Asian horror – and in this way, Filipino horror – can harness that enchanting appeal that draws global audiences. The international market, after all, is always hungry for new monsters, something they have not yet seen or experienced vicariously.

P-Horror future in the regions

With the steady increase in regional film festivals, more and more facets of our psyche are getting their share of screen time here and abroad. Imagine over 7,641 islands of history! With this arsenal, I can’t help but be excited about the many possibilities our filmmakers have.

When it comes to horror and fantasy, we quickly think of the Ngilngig Asian Fantastic Film Festival Davao. In addition to showcasing the fantastic, the annual event features films that are ngilngig – horrible, horrible, bloody. Ngilngig’s goal of promoting and preserving the region’s myths, traditions, history and culture in cinematic form is laudable.

What is stopping us? On October 26, Iloilo’s short film “Ang May Akda: Ikatlong Yugto” won the Extreme Scream Award at the Berlin Flash Film Festival. The film was shot entirely using a smartphone.

In addition, the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) has many film labs and festivals that provide training and mentoring, such as the Filmstitute and the Film School.

The FDCP is also home to Sine Kabataan, Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino, CineIskool and many more, and supports the great potential of the regions by working with local governments to organize film festivals such as Pelikultura, QCinema, Binisaya Film Fest, Northern Mindanao Film Fest, to name a few.

I want to encourage aspiring filmmakers to create more films that touch on our collective tapestry of stories – our own myths, folklore and superstitions. We already have the material. Our culturally diverse society, with its rich oral and written literature – the keepers of the national imagination – is a library vault of story ideas where artists such as filmmakers can draw inspiration for their crafts.

Perhaps it is high time that the White Lady spread her lair outside of Balete Drive. Or for the aswang to receive worldwide notoriety. But more important than going any further, it can be our part in preserving and recording our own stories for posterity. This way, we can hopefully stay in touch with our roots wherever life may take us.

Have a good scare in FDCP Channel’s Stream and Scream, a one-time free screening of the must-see Pinoy Horror movies at www.fdcpchannel.ph. See you at the cinema (FDCP)!

About Monty S. Maynard

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