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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.

Dec 21, 2015

Janella Salvador Shines As The Ghost-Fighting Heroine In Regal's Filmfest Entry, 'Haunted Mansion'

JANELLA SALVADOR shines in Regal’s Metro-Manila Filmfest entry, “Haunted Mansion”. She handled all her demanding scenes convincingly, like when she was possessed by evil spirits during a seance that accidentally caused the death of her father (Allan Paule). She also has tender scenes with her caring mom (Lilet) and two younger siblings.

Janella plays a student who’s oppressed by the mean girls in her school (Devon Seron, Ingrid de la Paz and Eliza Pineda) because she’s considered a weirdo who can reportedly see dead people. But two guys are attracted to her (Marlo Mortel and Jerome Ponce). All of them get trapped in a haunted mansion where their class is having a retreat, including Sharlene San Pedro as Janella’s best friend, their teacher (Janice de Belen) and spiritual adviser (Dominic Ochoa).

The mansion turns out to be haunted by the restless spirits of its previous dwellers, Iza Calzado, LJ Reyes and Joem Bascon, who were engaged in a deadly love triangle when they were still alive. Since Janella has a third eye, she sees visions of them and they also appear in her dreams. Two of them seem to be trying to convey an important message to her but she’s quite scared to communicate with them.

The movie’s climax happens on a stormy night where there are no cellphone signals and they all get stranded by floods all around them. A malevolent spirit gets violent and starts killing all the people in the mansion, one by one. This is triggered by a cellphone that happens to have recorded the revelations of one of the dead characters inside the confessional box. Whoever listens to it then becomes the target of the evil spirit who pulls out the tongue of each of its victims.

It becomes Janella’s mission to confront this evil spirit and destroy it. But doing so is not that easy as the spirit is very powerful and cannot be repelled or stopped by the priest or the holy crucifix. Janella gets good support from everyone, with special mention of Sharlene San Pedro as her wisecracking friend, Devon Seron as the annoying leader of the mean girls and Iza Calzado who literally “makes sabog ng lagim” in a role that you will not soon forget.

We watched the movie at a special midnight screening in Greenhills and the audience is reacting with screams in many scenes, especially when the spirit starts tormenting its victims. Director Jun Lana surely knows how to pull the right strings to scare the viewers. Technical credits are all above average, particularly the cinematography, musical score and production design. If you want a good scare during the holiday season, “Haunted Mansion”, is the movie for you.