Saturday, November 10, 2012

Flashy gnashing

Some spoilers ahead.

“Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles” is often visually entrancing, the action-comedy flick by writer-director Erik Matti an atmospheric and painterly showcase at certain parts. The foreign influences are obvious; the action scenes and slow-mo shots of leaping, whipping vampire slayer Makoy, played by Dingdong Dantes, look inspired by sequences from Zack Snyder’s flashy epics.

The creature designs are admirable, but the effects don’t always do them justice. Even more distracting, however, is the monsters’ derivativeness. The film’s vampire antagonists, while involved in some focused action scenes, lack the necessary backstory to be truly effective. First off, there’s no real elaboration on the tiktik bird’s relation to the vampires. There aren’t explanations on how the vampire tribe can daywalk, either, but the time element seems important during their attack on the home of Makoy’s pregnant lover, Sonia (Lovi Poe).

It’s also unclear how the creatures can chase a speeding vehicle, but can be outrun by humans. Also baffling is the supposed amping-up of the vampire group by their leader (Roi Vinzon), but their stronger, more feral forms easily succumb to the snack Boy Bawang! And just as frustrating is the absence of a credible reason why the monsters are deathly allergic to the buntot-pagi whip.

As for other gripes, the human characters sometimes react so slowly in oddly paced scenes—i.e. Makoy’s weird hostaging of Bart (Ramon Bautista) outside the house, and Nestor’s (Joey Marquez) annoyingly delayed reaction to an attack on his wife (Janice De Belen), among other incidents.  

Its lack of a unique and stable  monster mythology keeps it from becoming intriguing; the foes wouldn’t be forgettable and flat had there been clearly established origins and acceptable reasons behind their limitations.

Be that as it may, the film has some (intentionally) funny scenes and catchy banter. But it’s quite hard to like and care for the characters, heroic or not. 

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