Tag Archives: Sofia Andres

culture by Philbert Dy

‘Bloody Crayons’ Uses Slasher Tropes to Test the Limits of Young Friendships

Though it doesn’t completely hold together, Bloody Crayons is youthful, violent fun.

NBHD movie 3-2 ticketsBloody Crayons follows Eunice (Janella Salvador) and her friends, who have all traveled to a creepy old house on a remote island to help aspiring director Kiko (Elmo Magalona) shoot a short film. Tensions quickly rise among the friends as romantic entanglements get in the way of work. These tensions come to a head one night, when a seemingly innocent game ends with one of them suddenly dying. Things only get more dangerous from there, as the kids find themselves locked in the house, unsure of who to trust as the body count continues to rise.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.42.55 PMThe film takes a good long while to get to the killing. The setup gets a bit awkward, as the movie doesn’t seem fully equipped to portray young people getting along and having fun. But it starts to get more fun as the story applies pressure on the characters. The film builds something compelling by testing the limits of these supposed friendships and then just breaking them. It largely gets around the problem of horror movie characters making bad choices by embracing their fragility. It takes these dumb kids ruled by hormones and emotion, and stresses them to the point of violence.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.43.55 PMThe fun really starts when the characters start pointing fingers at each other. The film exposes the shallowness of these relationships, and amplifies every dumb emotion to dangerous ends. So, what might seem like playful tension between two characters later becomes something much more overt and physical. Petty, hormone-driven jealousy might grow into suspicion, later leading into a fight between characters who really ought to be helping each other. The film creates something potent as it takes what could be small issues and just sticks them in a pressure cooker of proximity and violence.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.44.21 PMThe result is fairly fun, even if it doesn’t completely hold together. The story overreaches a bit when it gives one of its characters a tragic backstory. Given the effect that the film is trying to create, it might have been better to leave that character more of a mystery. And though the film does largely justify these characters acting illogically, there are still moments where it feels like they go too far off the rational scale. But the film does make up with this with solid genre mechanics. The movie really flexes its muscles in scenes where a character is hiding from someone else, finding clever ways to express the nearness of danger.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.45.34 PMThere are odd technical hiccups here and there, but it isn’t really enough to distract from the overall craft. The film gets a lot out of its location, the production design amping up the natural eeriness of the house. The young cast is good enough. Janella Salvador ends up being saddled with the least compelling character, but she makes do. There’s a fragility to Elmo Magalona that serves his character well. Ronnie Alonte can make awkward line deliveries at times, but he just brings so much presence to the screen. Everyone really starts to shine when the pressure’s on, these actors doing a great job of conveying the fear and confusion surrounding their characters.Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 12.44.50 PMBloody Crayons, if nothing else, doesn’t feel like most locally produced horror movies. Its threats aren’t these abstract supernatural ideas that tend to pop up in the background of scenes, inexplicably idle as the film attempts to oversell the moment with a loud stinger. The film instead finds its danger in the fragility of young friendships, which can go from one extreme to the next in a split second. The cracks show every now and then, but there is a sense of youthful energy that helps keep things fresh and fun. And that’s enough, really.

BLOODY CRAYONS IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.
culture by Philbert Dy

‘Pwera Usog’ Follows the Wrong Characters Around For Too Long

This awkward film feels like a mashup of two unrelated stories.

NBHD movie 2 ticketsPwera Usog is about Jean (Sofia Andres), who produces online prank videos with her friends (Albie Casiño and Cherise Castro). They, along with Jean’s ex-boyfriend Sherwin (Joseph Marco), go on an out of town trip one day, where they encounter a homeless woman in an abandoned building. They play a prank on her that goes horribly wrong, their victim reacting violently and then falling off the roof. Bizarrely, the woman’s body disappears. Then, these young people start encountering all manner of strangeness. Some of them fall victim to a mysterious affliction that seems to stem from their encounters with the supernatural.Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 12.50.32 PMIt is around this point that the movie takes a turn. Jean actually becomes a bit of a tangential character, as the story gets into the arc that really matters in the end. The focus shifts from the fate of Jean and her friends to the efforts of a pair of albularyos to save a young woman possessed by a malevolent spirit. In fact, it becomes a little weird that Jean is still around at all, her involvement in the events of the last half of the film coming off pretty forced at best. The film has some interesting directorial touches, but the structure of the overall narrative is pretty tough to swallow.Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 12.46.54 PMSo the film invests a good chunk of its time in sketching out the specifics of Jean’s situation. She is a young woman from an affluent family. She has a bad relationship with her father, who is always away on business. She is apparently able to support herself financially through her online videos, and she is very sensitive to how people online perceive her. That’s a lot of stuff to sit through, and it’s all placed on the backburner once the film makes its narrative shift. The film makes some loose connections between what’s happening in the story and Jean’s personal journey, but those links are tenuous at best.Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 12.47.10 PMSo what happens is that the film becomes too much about how awful Jean is, and not enough about how she’s changing that. Instead of depicting her journey towards some sort of redemption, the film basically puts her in the sidelines and lets other characters take focus. The film pins its eventual resolution on her, and has her take center stage again in the denouement. But none of that is earned. The characters later introduced are also underserved by this structure. They may have become the protagonists, but there is investment in what they’re doing since they entered the story so late.Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 12.50.19 PMThe film is at its best when things get weird. The scares are fairly rudimentary, largely involving the sudden appearance of something behind something else. But there are a couple of wackier sequences involving bodily fluids that show off a fairly wicked sense of humor. The performances are a little weird, perhaps owing to the unusual structure. Sofia Andres never really gets the time to show the growth of her character, and Joseph Marco is basically relegated to comic relief at some point. Koko Estrada and Aiko Melendez, without the benefit of proper set up, are mostly stuck playing one note.Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 12.45.52 PMPwera Usog feels like at least two movies awkwardly cobbled together. There is a movie here about YouTube pranksters getting their just desserts from a supernatural force, and there is a movie about albularyos having to deal with an evil that they’ve ignored for two long. There are merits to either one, but few of them survive in this mashup of narratives. There are a couple of thrilling moments that somewhat recall the sensibilities of Sam Raimi, but as a whole, the film feels pretty clunky.

PWERA USOG IS NOW PLAYING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE.
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Philbert Dy
Philbert Ortiz Dy has been reviewing movies professionally since 2007, and has thus dedicated his life to being yelled at by fans of literally everyone. He is currently the Online Editor of Rogue.ph. Yell at him on Twitter at @philbertdy.