Haven’t had your fill of spooky season yet?
We know Hollywood has recently released some bone-chilling horror and thriller flicks in the last couple years, such as “Us” (2019) and “The Devil All The Time” (2020) to name a few, but Philippine cinema also has plenty to offer in these genres.
Pinoy horror movies get a lot of flak for their poor CGI and cliché plotlines, but we do have some cinematic gems that don’t get enough appreciation.
So if you’re in the mood for terror, here are some underrated Pinoy horror flicks that are worth losing sleep over. (Except for our bonus pick, Kris Aquino’s long list of horror flicks aren’t here, if you’re wondering.)
Nasaan Ka Man
Directed by Cholo Laurel
I just have to start this list with “Nasaan Ka Man” (2005). This movie, in my opinion, was way ahead of its time. It came out during an era of mainstream cinema when most of the horror films produced revolved around local superstitions and folklore (or at least the ones I watched did).
Although “Nasaan Ka Man” still features familiar elements of typical Pinoy horror movies like family drama and rural landscapes, its plot is a cut above the rest. The film is about three adoptive siblings played by Diether Ocampo, Jericho Rosales, and Claudine Barretto, and the secret romantic relationship between the latter two’s characters, Joven and Pilar. Gloria Diaz and Hilda Koronel star as the trio’s adoptive parents.
Apart from the refreshing premise and crazy plot twist, “Nasaan Ka Man” also features stellar performances from its star-studded cast, with Barretto, Rosales, and Diaz bagging the FAMAS Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress awards respectively.
Directed by Jeffrey Hidalgo
“Silong” (2015) is a layered film about a damsel in distress and a good samaritan. It starts off like a love story between these two character archetypes, played by Rhian Ramos and Piolo Pascual.
Miguel (Pascual) finds Valerie (Ramos) beaten and bloody in the middle of a road and decides to welcome her into his home to nurse her back to health. An awkward yet sweet romance starts to form, but Miguel’s cryptic personality foreshadows a dark history behind his kind doctor image.
Movie critics called “Silong” a shapeshifter of a film – and rightfully so because it devolves from a countryside romance to a horrific domestic nightmare.
One of the things I liked best about this movie, aside from the plot twist, is Rhian’s and Piolo’s performances. Their acting gave justice to the film’s whiplash-inducing twists and turns.
Directed by Erik Matti
“Kuwaresma” (2019) is a newer release compared to the rest of our list. Top-billed by none other than Sharon Cuneta, the Megastar’s first-ever horror film follows the story of a young man, played by Kent Gonzalez, who returns home for the funeral of his twin sister who died under mysterious circumstances.
As the protagonist investigates the reason behind his sister’s death, Luis (Gonzalez) begins to uncover the skeletons in his family’s closet.
The plot of “Kuwaresma” is something we’ve already seen before – one that revolves around an evil lurking inside a home that affects the family. But what makes this film such an effective horror piece is Erik Matti’s brave storytelling and, of course, the hair-raising performances of Sharon Cuneta and John Arcilla, who played the family’s overbearingly dominant patriarch.
Directed by Jerrold Tarog
“Bliss” (2017) is a psychological thriller by Jerrold Tarog. It follows Jane (Iza Calzado), an actress who is forced to take a break after an accident on set leaves her crippled. She’s put under the care of her absentee husband (TJ Trinidad) and a strange, obsessive nurse (Adrienne Vergara).
Honestly, I hate this movie – not because it’s bad, but because it left me traumatized. I saw this in the theatre when it came out and I remember wanting to leave halfway through the movie because I felt like I was suffocating. The cinematography makes you feel like you’re in the same situation as Jane – paralyzed and slowly descending into madness.
Compared to the rest of the list, Bliss is more of a character-driven movie than a plot-driven one. This kind of narrative emphasizes the actors’ and actresses’ performances, which they delivered. Calzado won Yakushi Pearl Award at the Osaka Film Festival for her role as Jane.
Bonus: Shake, Rattle & Roll
If you’re up for a challenge and a review of Philippine cinema’s history of horror films, you can binge-watch all 15 “Shake, Rattle & Roll” movies. The horror anthology series dates back to 1984, with the most recent entry released in 2014. That’s 21 years’ worth of movies (take that, MCU), so watching the entire franchise will definitely give you your fill of terror.
The entire SRR anthology is available on Regal Entertainment’s YouTube channel.
What’s your favorite Pinoy horror flick? Let us know in the comments.
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