Horror in the Philippines, Two Ways

March 20, 2007

"based on filipino superstitions," i had entered, regarding Ang Pamana.

"yeah it's crazy... a lot of people actually believe those superstitions
but coz of witchcraft and black magic sometimes it's hard not to believe
after living 3 months in the philippines
i just don't question it anymore

I later told a Filipino co-worker that I had seen Ang Pamana, which was directed by Romeo Candido. "Pamana?" he says. "What you get when someone dies?"

"Yeah, 'The Inheritance.' This brother [Johnny] and sister [Anna] living in Canada go to the Philippines when their grandma [Mama Lola] dies," I explain.

"And what, they go to the hacienda?" I guess 'going to the hacienda' is another common thing. Like horror movies.

So what do you get when you combine a return of some second-generation kids to the ancestral hacienda with a well-developed tradition of superstitions? A freaky-ass story, that's what!

A slow start had me antsy, but later on I found myself totally absorbed by the demented world it sets up. After the movie ended I experienced one of those moments when you're scared to look in the bathroom mirror because there might be a supernatural being hanging out behind you.


Directed by Ato Bautista, the Filipino film Blackout is a beast of a different nature. A cautionary tale about an alcoholic father, Gil (Robin Padilla), whose wife has left him and their small son Nino (John Michael Reyes) behind, the film's title emblematizes his persistent lapses in time and memory. Taking place almost exclusively within the confines of an apartment complex, Blackout brilliantly executes a sickly claustrophobia in the meanest of existences.

Nino, who is prescient beyond his years, keeps asking his father to stop drinking. Of course, Gil always promises that he will. One night, Gil revives from one of his blackouts to discover that he's run over his neighbor's little daughter. To cover up her death, he sticks her body in the septic tank of an empty apartment in the complex that he owns. He's unable to leave the matter behind, though, when Nino begins talking to her.

I wish that I hadn't accidentally read a spoiler, so I won't do you that disservice. Instead, I'll tell you that this film is devastating: the horror of Blackout has less to do with monsters so much as pathetic parents and the missteps of which they are capable.

SFIAAFF film detail for Blackout

Ang Pamana website
SFIAAFF film detail for Ang Pamana

+ Ang Pamana plays tonight at 9:45pm, AMC Van Ness, San Francisco