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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 15, 2017

The Ghost Bride And Spirit Of The Glass 2, The Haunted Movie Review: Non-Scary Movies

TWO SUPPOSEDLY scary movies opened simultaneously on Todos Los Santos, “The Ghost Bride” and “Spirit of the Glass 2, The Haunted”. The trouble is both of them are devoid of really effective thrills and scares. It seems that brides are a favorite character in horror flicks. There’s the 2005 animated film, “The Corpse Bride” by Tim Burton, and more recently, the Russian film “The Bride” where a young woman is subjected to a nefarious wedding ritual by her boyfriend.

In 2013, we saw a film at SM Cinema also titled “The Ghost Bride”. It’s from New Zealand and it’s about a young man who doesn’t know that his mother has set him up to marry a dead woman. Now comes Chito Rono’s own version where Kim Chiu is a poor girl who performs in Kaoka Chinese opera. She wants to help her cash-strapped family so she accepts the offer of a mysterious matchmaker, Angie Lao (Alice Dixson), to marry a dead single man in China, based on a supposed Chinese tradition. In return, she gets to be paid handsomely.

But just like the bagua of Lotus Feet in Chito’s real horror masterpiece whose story idea was filched
by a Hollywood filmmaker without acknowledging it, “Feng Shui”, and his second good horror film where people get mysteriously healed, “The Healing”, this comes with a price. Soon people are dropping dead after being a threat to Kim Chiu. She then tries her best to back out from her deadly engagement and redeem herself.

Setting up the story takes quite a long time and, later, the narrative becomes more and more ridiculous as the movie goes on. This is especially true in the final act where Kim goes to Nepal, and later, in the nether world of tortured spirits to rescue her father and to fight an evil god who eats souls. There she meets the spirits of the people who got killed because of her, like persistent suitor, Mon Confiado, who wanted to rape her, and her spineless boyfriend, Matteo Guidicelli.

The Ghost Bride is then transformed into a Ghost Fighter (our apologies to Eugene of the popular Japanese manga) expertly brandishing a sword and demolishing nasty spirits who threaten her and her Ghost Dad, giving Scarlett Johannson a run for her money as the Ghost in the Shell.

Despite these desperate acts of trying to generate thrills that must have been authored by a Ghost Writer, “Ghost Bride” really offers nothing like the suspense and terror we felt when we watched “Feng Shui” and “The Healing”.

Kim Chiu tries her best to be believable in her role as the feisty and harrassed heroine and she often succeeds. But we can’t help but think that Kris Aquino would be more fascinating to watch in playing the role of the scheming Angie Lao. But of course, she wouldn’t do it because it’s a contravida role.
A lot of the stars here who play Chinese characters don’t even look Chinese, like Robert Sena and Ina Raymundo as Kim’s parents. Alice doesn’t also look Chinese even in her squinted eye make up. And she speaks with a very fake Chinese accent in pidgin Taglish. In contrast, Isay Alvarez looks every inch a Chinese as a bald monk, but she speaks in fluent Tagalog.

Matteo also doesn’t look Chinese at all and how come there was no investigation at all after he got killed? Many people saw him being hurled by Kim on the windshield of a car. His very Chinese looking parents are supposed to value him so much as they’ve even arranged a marriage of convenience for him. How come they didn’t even complain to the cops about his sudden death?
The truth is that Christian Bables looks better suited in the role of Matteo because of his chinky eyes.

But it’s Christian who makes a sudden appearance towards the film’s finale as Kim’s knight in shining armor who explains everything to her and ends up as her leading man. Matteo played a basically thankless supporting role. Actually, some characters have no significance at all, like that of Jerome Ponce who didn’t really do anything important. Here's wishing that Chito Rono would redeem himself in his next horror project.

THE FIRST ‘Spirit of the Glass’, written and directed by Jose Javier Reyes, was shown in 2004, with Rica Peralejo going to her family’s ancestral home with BF Dingdong Dantes and some friends (among them, Alessandra de Rossi, Paolo Contis, Jake Cuenca, Drew Arellano, Ciara Sotto). They play spirit of the glass on a ouija board and this summons restless spirits asking for their help.
This is also the same concept used in “Spirit of the Glass 2, The Haunted”. A group of friends (Cristine Reyes, Daniel Matsunaga, Benjamin Alves, Maxine Medina, Ashley Ortega and Enrico Cuenca) also play the spirit of the glass and opens up a portal where a murdered movie star (Janine Gutierrez) comes asking for their help in seeking justice.

We’ve written before, even in our reviews of foreign flicks, that when horror movies are about restless spirits who seek justice and revenge, they’re bound not to be truly scary. As a matter of fact, our tendency is to side with the ghosts so they can be vindicated and they can punish the bad guys who oppressed them when they were still alive.

Other films of Jose Javier Reyes that also run along these lines include “Malikmata”, a hit in the 2003 Metro filmfest, with Ana Capri as a murdered househelp who seeks the help of psychic Rica Peralejo in her quest for justice, and also with “Dilim”, where murdered girls Ella Cruz and Nathalie Hart seek the help of Kylie Padilla to give their killers the comeuppance that they so deserve. So here’s hoping the next horror flick of Joey Reyes will not be another rehash of this “naaping multo na gustong maghiganti” story.

In “Spirit 2”, there is an attempt to update the material with the three actresses in the cast liberally using social media in their respective professions. They even do research on the internet to find out the back story of what happened to the ghost who’s haunting them. But the trouble is we don’t really relate that well with these characters who don’t really contribute much to the narrative. They can all die of fright but we won’t really care. And we know that they’re not in any real danger since the ghost is just asking for their help.

As a matter of fact, we care more for Janine Gutierrez as the avenging ghost. And Janine is lucky as she has the best role in the movie and she makes the most of it to make quite a good impression. Too bad for the others as they play pretty thankless roles. As such, the film doesn’t really offer any truly scary scenes. We were with our grandchildren when we watched the movie and after it ended, one of them said: “Is that it?”