<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Showbiz Portal Bottom 1 300x250, created 10/15/10 --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-1272644781333770" data-ad-slot="2530175011"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 16, 2020


JC SANTOS & AGOT ISIDRO: not even their competent acting can redeem this B movie from its inadequacies

the monster bed

‘MOTEL ACACIA’ is a horror movie from director Bradley Liew, a young Malaysian filmmaker based here in Manila who did ‘Singing in Graveyards’ starring the late rocker Pepe Smith that was exhibited in various filmfests abroad.

Set in a snowy border town in America near Canada, the movie opens with some Tagalog-speaking Pinoys led by character actor Joel Saracho chasing something in the dark forest.

What the entity really is is not really made that clear, then we see JC Santos (also named JC in the movie) fetched by his dad (Jan Bivouet) who drives through snow-covered mountains to get to a motel he owns and where he wants to put JC in charge.

But it doesn’t really look like a motel like the most famous motel in the history of cinema, Bates Motel (if you don’t know what Bates Motel is, stop reading, dummy), but more like a creepy underground bunker or a sinister cavernous warehouse that has definitely seen better days.

JC is shocked to discover that his dad is actually a big  asshole. They don’t really look alike as his mom is Pinay and we’re not at all informed what previously transpired with him and his dad prior to his arrival to the motel.

The motel turns out to be a death trap from hell for illegal immigrants who make the terrible mistake of rooming with them.

The first victim is a frail looking Asian immigrant (Perry Dizon) who arrives at the hotel with JC and his dad.

He claims JC’s dad has been fully paid but instead of decent accommodations and hospitality, what he gets from JC’s dad is so much hostility and humiliation.

He is forced to take off all his clothes or else, he’d be thrown out and die from the freezing cold. He is then shown to his room and when he lies down on the bed, it turns out to be a ferocious monster-like blob that then eats him alive.

From here, the movie becomes a copy of other suspense-horror films.

JC gets three more immigrants played by actors of various nationalities (Nicholas Saputra, Vithaya Pansringarm and Bront Palarae) who have paid his dad for safe passage as illegal immigrants, along with a young Caucasian couple (Will Jaymes and Talia Zucker) who earlier rescued JC from a wintry storm where his dad (told in flashbacks) seems to have perished in an accident and from the creeping tentacles of a monster.

Also present is Angeli (Agot Isidro), who also works for JC’s dad and just wants to be fully paid for her services,  so she can finance the coming surgery of her child in the Philippines.

They look like characters in Agatha Christie’s novel, “And Then There Were None” (which also became a film, “Ten Little Indians”), where strangers get stranded in a remote place and then killed one by one by a mysterious murderer.

Only, this one is so derivative it’s also mixed up with Ridley Scott’s “Alien”, as the Caucasian girl is impregnated by the horny monster in the bed.

Her tummy swells up with a creature growing inside and then when her tummy is opened up, it jumps out, runs away, then starts killing them.

“Motel Acacia” looks every inch like a haphazardly made B movie.

The problem is that it doesn’t really generate any genuine scares, simply because we don’t get to genuinely relate with any of the characters, who are all sketchily written and portrayed by actors who mostly display some very unpersuasive acting.

It will only work if we honestly care for the lead characters, like Sigourney Weaver as the iconic Ripley in “Alien”. Here, we don’t really give a hoot if the characters would survive or perish.

Some intriguing social or relevant political commentary  are injected, like climate change, racism, the way the U.S. and Trump deal with foreigners who want to get in, but they’re not really dealt with seriously or convicingly.

The overall execution comes out as shabby and some of the situations are just downright silly in development, just like why the so-called town council would seek the help of a demonic bed to get rid of illegal immigrants.

JC Santos is one of our most competent young actors working today and Agot herself is a pretty reliable actress. They were both so good in the streaming mini-series, “Don’t Call Me Tita”.

But whatever convincing acting they may have to offer is not enough to redeem this movie from its inadequacies. 

Hardly publicized or promoted and further aggravated by the coronavirus scare, there were only five of us when we watched it in a cavernous mall theatre. How sad, really!!!!