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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.

Apr 23, 2016

Echorsis Movie Review: Such A Confused Mess

WHEN we tell the ticket girl at SM that we’re watching the movie at Cinema 6, she says: “Yung Ekorsis po?” We’re sure the makers of “Echorsis” do not want it to be pronounced that way. But that’s their fault. Everyone knows “echo” is pronounced “eko”, and you can even ask the fans of Echo Rosales about that. If they wanted it to be pronounced the way they like, then the title should’ve been “Etchorsis”, from the swardspeak term “etchos”, and you can even ask Justo Justo about that.

As such, how can you expect a movie na, sa title pa lang, pumalpak na, to be attractive to moviegoers? When we watched it, there was just a handful of us viewers inside the theatre. And the movie is such a confused mess. It starts with John Lapus as a closet queen who works in the store of his mom (Odette Khan) selling religious images. It ends with Kean Cipriano who’s a priest that performs exorcism and also turns out to be another closet queen.

There’s an amusing germ of a concept in the movie’s story about both closet queens having the same object of affection, Alex Vincent Medina, a hustler who steals P500,000 from John Lapus so he can spend it on his wedding to a girl who suddenly vanishes mysteriously in the movie and is never seen again. John is possessed by John, who died accidentally, and it’s Kean who exorcises Alex to get rid of the bad spirit who inhabits his body to make him behave like a screaming faggot.

The movie is sold as a horror comedy but sorry to say, it’s neither scary nor funny. It will take a truly astute filmmaker with more flair, wit and style to deliver the script by Jerry Gracio on the big screen effectively. Here, even the flow of the narrative often gets stalled by bad editing where the transition from one scene to the next, more of ten than not, do not unfold smoothly to help forward the story.

Some folks compare “Echorsis” to the classic horror flick, “The Exorcist”, and to the local comedy, “Zombadings”, but, excuse us, don’t say bad words. Those movies are definitely far better realized than this one. All the flamboyant gay characters who play John’s friends here, led by Super Si Reyna winner Francine Garcia, are somehow quite diverting, but they suddenly vanish and the movie becomes an even bigger bore as they were replaced by homophobic priests.

There are also attempts to sound profound as the characters discuss the difference between sex and gender, some spiritual issues, the complications resulting from relationships, etc. Ano ang ibig sabihin ng lahat ng kaguluhang ito? Pretensyoso! No wonder most of the characters seem lost and often look like they’re just stranded on screen not knowing as to which direction the movie will take them. Unless you’re a Tim Burton in “Beetlejuice” or the animated “Corpse Bride” and “Frankenweenie”, it’s really difficult to do a horror-comedy that works well. Even the late Wenn Deramas who has many blockbusters failed to pull it off in the “Addams Family” clone, “Wang Fam”, a dismal flop.

The efforts of “Echorsis” to make us laugh is done hit or miss style, but most of the time, the jokes/gags just fall flat and can sometimes even come out so downright silly and ridiculous. In the middle of John’s suicide attempt, macho dancers in skimpy shorts appear and his friends suddenly dance with them. Kean also has a dream sequence with macho dancers representing the seven deadly scenes. Alessandra de Rossi and Kiray Celis appear in guest roles as a mangkukulam and a possessed girl, but sorry, they failed to contribute anything hilarious to the already burdensome proceedings on screen.

But the most preposterous sequence is when the devil himself appears on screen to do a dance showdown with John Lapus. And he is personified by gay comedian Chokoleit, who goes to town with his cantankerous performance that we’re sure will displease even the real devil himself. Wonder what may be the sentiments of the LGBT about this movie that does not really portray a sympathetic picture of gays.

John is a seasoned gay actor and he does fairly well, but he really needs to lose weight to be credible and appealing in the scenes where he’s made to look like a vamp and comes out distractingly fat. Kean takes his role too seriously and comes out looking constipated and unconvincing in a lot of scenes. It’s only Alex who obviously had fun in playing his role to the hilt, whether he’s being an oily scheming gigolo whose specialty is preying on lonely gays or acting like a swishy gay himself when he’s possessed by an evil spirit. Not everyone can do this as effectively the way he does it.