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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 30, 2013

Sapi Movie Review: Lacks Focus And Fails To Scare

BOX OFFICE success remains elusive to Cannes Filmfest best director Brilliante Mendoza. His horror movie, "Sapi", was given a wide theatrical release but only a few people watched it so it was not at all extended in theatres. The movie is not really a commercial enterprise and is given the familiar indie treatment marked with cumbersome and confusing storytelling. The excessive use of the handheld camera can also give you a headache.

The actors appearing in the story use their own names: Dennis Trillo, Meryll Soriano and Baron Geisler. They work for rival TV networks. They both want to have an extensive coverage of a case of possession where a teacher (the ubiquitous Ruby Ruiz who's in almost every other indie film we see) is said to be possessed by evil spirits.

In order to get good footage of the actual demonic possession, Meryll gets into an underground deal with their rival cameraman, Baron, and pays him just to obtain his own coverage of what happened to Ruby. As may be expected, this leads to some unpleasant consequences, especially when Ruby complains that the said footage is never meant to be aired.

The movie tends to meander and foray into some other relevant topics, like the constant floods in Metro-Manila and the "basura" all around us. Maybe it wants to give some socially relevant commentary or it's saying that there are more horrifying things in real life than stories of people being allegedly possessed by an evil spirit, like people junking ethics and doing illegal things just to up their ratings and win in the network wars.

But the real horror here is the expose that ruthless TV journalists will willingly distort the truth in their efforts to make their programs rate. But with it lacking proper focus, the movie scatters to all sorts of direction.

Animals are also used to add into the mystery and for more cryptic imagery, like a snake, a crocodile and a dog hit by a car that you'd think it's dead but it suddenly gets up and walks. Maybe they are used as symbols to stand up for something else but, sorry, we're not erudite enough to decipher their meaning. But all these elements just smack of pretentiousness and do not build up to an effective impact or make a cohesive horror flick that most ordinary viewers want to watch.