Friday, July 03, 2009

Villa Estrella

By Reymundo Salao

Ana and the boyfriend she doesn’t love spend the night at a resthouse property known as Villa Estrella. And while they were there, she discovers many things about the place. The appearance of ghastly little girl and the strange disappearance of some other visitors who were there that evening. Not only is she faced with these eerie occurrences, but her own repressed memory is starting to unravel itself as well.

VILLA ESTRELLA had a good plot to work on, yet it falters in the execution. (And that ugly fucking poster this movie has, the generic horror movie type of poster) Oftentimes, at the earlier parts of the movie, the musical score just needlessly goes up trying to scare its audiences with cheesy horror-music but fails to do so because there is no build-up, no reason enough to back up the scare yet. One minute into the film, and you start scaring your audiences with shock-sound effects? What do you think your audiences are? Paranoid retards? I hate it when movies like this heavily underestimate its own audiences.

Its premature scare tactics are a liability to the film. The lack of build-up made one of the main monsters of the movie, which is the zombie-like ghost of a little girl, comes off as silly, ridiculous, and funny. Because there was no subtlety in her first appearance, as a consequence, her first appearance looks like a parody, this character becomes a walking joke, extinguishing her scary image.

The film swindles its audiences in a lousy kind of way that it only comes off as bad storytelling. It builds-up this creepy ghost child as its main villain, and then all of the sudden changes its course and completely forgets about that character, not giving her proper explanation or closure. Even if we were to assume that she was being prepped for a sequel, it was still a sloppy confusing exit for her. Then we immediately turn our attention to another villain. It feels like it attempts to look smart by trying to confuse its audiences, but we can clearly see that the story was just badly told, and comes of as stupid instead.

It was also silly to see the main villain at the end come off as something that looks like a villain from Darna or X-men. The storyline did not really need for the main villain to be thickly immersed in prosthetics. A good horror movie, especially with the kind of storyline this movie has, would be great enough if it were executed with simplicity and a little constraint. This is a fine example of a good horror story ruined by additives.

The cast did well. Shaina Magdayao was great as the main protagonist. Maja Salvador, who I found to be alluringly pretty, is excellent as a mysterious girl who also lives in Villa Estrella, Jake Cuenca did also quite well. The rest of the cast from Liza Lorena to the guy who played the comic relief of the movie were really good. The weakest link was Geoff Eigenmann, his acting was not really that bad, but there were scenes where his acting feels so B-movie. There was a scene where I feel like I would like to ask him: Are you dying? …or are you just constipated?

Truly the saving grace of the film is that it has a great storyline. The story is not very original, but at least it does not come off as a copycat (as far as I know of anyway, that's because I have not watched any of the other horror movies lately). In fact, the main storyline is a good one. Sure, it's a recycled storyline but it still holds up. The love triangle sub-plot is quite interesting, and for a mainstream tagalog movie, it is refreshing to find a love triangle that does not easily define which side the audiences root for. Shaina’s character does not come off as a typical protagonist because she was basically cheating on her boyfriend (arguably, of course), that is why Jake’s character is also the one other audiences sympathize with.

It is indeed frustrating to think that this movie could be so much better if only it had more constraint, and a bit more polished direction. If I was to give it a food analogy, this movie is not delicious, but quite edible. And in comparison, Transformers 2 was just all sugar, fatteners, MSG , and chemicals bad for your body. I’d rather spend my money on Villa Estrella.


Anonymous said...

i agree with your review on villa estrella.
the movie is kinda korny.b ut thanks to the cast it went well.i love how natural shaina is, as what most people who watched said i agree she is the strongest link.jake was amazing as always,he is very good.maja is wonderful but one of my friends noticed she over acts sometimes and i agree,she must be reminded that she is over acting sometimes eevn my. while geoff????????? whatever is geoff doing in the movie????his character is unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

sorry for the typos

Reymundo said...

hello there!
thanks for leaving your comments! :)
geoff's acting was lousy
i hate the way he was put up there just to satisfy some kind of lame excuse of just giving him a role

but actually, i like the way he was put up there IF the intention was to make Shaina's character less likeable. I like it when these mainstream tagalog movies endeavor to make their characters have gray areas

:) thanks for dropping by my site :D