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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.

Jan 31, 2023



‘SPELLBOUND’ is a Viva Films adaptation of a 2011 Korean film that combines horror with romance and comedy. 

It is also known as “My Girlfriend Can See Ghosts”. The local version stars Bela Padilla as Yuri, the survivor of an accident in their schoolbus where her best friend, Rhen Escano as Clara, died. 

Since then, Clara and other ghosts continue to make their presence felt in Bela’s life, scaring the other people around her, her family included. 

It’s like the little boy who sees dead people in “The Sixth Sense” growing up and now facing this kind of frightful predicament.

Clara’s aim is to keep Bela single and sad forever as she believes Bela is partly guilty of her death after she gave Bela a necklace that’s supposed to protect her. 

Because of this, Bela lives a lonely and isolated life.  

Then she meets Marco Gumabao as Victor, a magician who is not really good in what he does but sees Bela’s gloomy appearance as something that will improve his act. 

He gets Bela to be part of his “horror magic show” as a ghost in the closet and the audience loves it. 

You’d think “Spellbound” is a horror flick due to the presence of ghosts, but it’s actually more of a romantic-comedy sprinkled with some jump scares involving some restless spirits.   

The progression of the love story involving Bela and Marco is delineated in a leisurely but credible manner. 

He acts brave in front of others but his cowardice comes out every now and then. 

But still he would willingly risk everything for Bela as he doesn't want to lose her, even if he’s afraid of what might happen with the ghosts around her.   

We didn’t expect the movie to be that entertaining, but surprisingly, it has many funny scenes that really make you laugh out loud. 

Bela has shown before that she is the queen of hugot films with sad endings, specially those helmed by JP Laxamana. 

Here she succeeds in making the viewers feel her palpable loneliness and her heartbreak, but she also shows a comic side we haven’t seen before. 

She is specially hilarious in that drunken scene where she reprimands a young couple who are kissing unabashedly in public.

You will somehow root for her as she deals with ghosts who treat her like an errand girl as they seek justice for their timely and unwarranted deaths, like the mother and son who are victims of hit and run. 

The movie has a strong supporting cast, specially Sarah Brakensiek and Moi Bien, but there’s no doubt the movie belongs to Bela and Marco. 

Marco is every inch a romantic heartthrob. He could also act well, as shown in that airport scene near the end where he is teary eyed as he implores Bela not to leave for abroad. 

We wish Viva would give him bigger film projects. 

Both he and Bela have an engaging screen presence and together, they have quite a good chemistry. 

It’s amusing to watch them as they explore their tentative steps in the development of relationship. 

You will cheer for them to eventually fall in love with each other, despite the spooky supernatural crazy odds thrown on their way. 

This is a quite impressive directorial debut for Jalz Zarate, who used to be a producer of indie films.