Manananggal in Manila (1997)
Director: Mario O’ Hara
Producer: Joey Gosiengfiao, Roselle Y. Monteverde, et. al.
Screenwriter: Floy Quintos
Date Released: 1997
Tonton Gutierrez as Desidek
Alma Concepcion as Beatriz
Aiza Seguerra as Timmy
Eric Fructouso as Jonas
Angelika as Terry
Mike Magat as Al
Jasmin Mendoza as Denise
Rating = 1.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Set in the Philippines, the story opens with a masquerade festival that may have something to do with the mananaggal, a blood-sucking creature. Years later, we follow sisters, Terry and Timmy who struggle with their own personal issues. Meanwhile, the mananaggal continues to roam Manila and kill people. But, the story soon turns into a woman’s revenge on her ex-partner who impregnated her. Her revenge subsequently turns against her into something sinister.
There is no blood or gore in this film. The scenes that involve violence are not graphic but rather suggestive. However, most scenes only show the end result of what occurred.
The Grave Review
The focus and direction of the plot is a little complicated. It is clear that Terry and Timmy are the focal point of the film. It is also clear that a monster is causing bad things to occur. However, there are also a lot of personal issues which Terry and Timmy must face which distorts the fluidity of the story. At first, the story starts by introducing a creature who is terrorizing Manila. Then it turns into a different story, whereby Terry becomes possessed by the creature. Unfortunately, the multiple story aspects affect the film as a whole. It is not until the second half of the film that some of the story starts to make some sense. However, even as the story unfolds, certain aspects of the film go unexplained or jump to another scene without much fluidity.
Another negative aspect is the fact that a main antagonist is never truly defined. In fact, the film portrayed multiple characters as being antagonists within the story. One character is called the Desidek while another character is the model, Beatriz (played by Alma Concepcion). As a viewer, you never quite know who the main villain is. But this too is made clear towards the end of the film. The twist at the end is also commendable but may seem cliché in some ways.
This film also has some cultural references to frequent problems in the Philippines and elsewhere. More specifically, women who are impregnated and left to take care of their child alone. Alternatively, there are issues where one partner may deny that they are responsible for the baby. This film points out these issues and tackles them in its own way.
Actress, Aiza Seguerra, who play Timmy (Timoseo), adds a lot of humor and wit to the film. Her funny one-liners are not intentional but come from her mannerism and spunk. For example, one day she wakes up and tells her Uncle, “my feet are not touching the ground.” She says it so casually, one cannot stop but laugh a little bit. As for the other actors and actresses, although respectable in their roles, they played relatively straight characters without much personality to distinguish themselves.
On a side note, the music to the opening credits is very well done and fitting to the theme of the movie.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Manananggal in Manila (1997) one and a half graves out of five graves.
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