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19 November 2014

Cinema One Originals 2014: Reviews for “Lorna” and “Violator”

Directed by Sigrid Andrea Bernardo

After the amazing “Ang Huling Cha Cha ni Anita,” (which incidentally won the Brun Readers’ Choice for Best Film for 2013), director Sigrid Andrea Bernardo once again offered us another intelligent film about women.  With the positive critics and viewers’ response to the Nova Villa starrer, “1st ko is 3rd,” (another 2014 comedy about women in their 60s), “Lorna” also proves that romance is not exclusively for the young.

However, “Lorna” is a cut above the rest because it refuses to offer a simple resolution.  The end of romantic comedies or dramas is not eventually finding true love in the arms of Mr. Right, but the goal should be making the audience see the entire process of discovering the true nature of love, and the kind of love that we ultimately deserve. The modern day romantic comedies should be about a woman loving herself first, and rejecting the notion that she is incomplete without a partner. For love’s sake, even Disney’s “Frozen” end up with both princesses unmarried but happy. “Lorna” is said to be Bernardo’s love letter to her own mother, and perhaps like Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall,” it is her love letter to love itself.

Sharmaine Buencamino shines as Lorna, and she is by far, one of the most fascinating and complex romantic leads in Filipino movies for a long time.   

Directed by Eduardo “Dodo” Dayao

Calling “Violator” as a horror movie is limiting. Eduardo Dayao’s debut film is a breath of fresh of air in an industry that churns out horror clichés one after the other. After all, the best horror films are always the ones that brilliantly capture the public’s unspoken fear.  “The Ring” became popular in Japan because it dramatizes the Japanese fear of technology controlling their lives. The fixation on haunted houses in American horror movies is symbolic of the hidden horrors in the American family (but I could be wrong). In the Philippines, the aswang is the oldest and most popular representation of the Filipino collective fear but the myth of aswang is passé, and it is now trapped in the “creature film genre.” Yes, the aswang is as bland and blasé as the vampire next door.

The Filipino film industry is yet to put a face on the current collective fear of the Filipinos.  Perhaps, the purveying evil in our public institutions such as the government, our churches, our schools, or our correctional facilities (to name a few) is the “new fear” of the Filipinos. This milieu’s evil is unapologetic and out in the open, walking among us. We elect them. We are the evil ones. In “Violator,” Dayao may be telling us that we have control over this evil and the horror is we let it go.

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