Film review: ‘The Healing’

Fred Hawson

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The movie, much like its star, has staying power: it has been in cinemas for almost 3 weeks.


MANILA, Philippines – I am a fan of Filipino horror films.

“The Healing” from Star Cinema features “star for all seasons” and Batangas Governor Vilma Santos in a rare appearance. It is directed by acclaimed director Chito Rono, who was also behind two of the best Filipino horror films of the last decade: “Feng Shui” (2004) and “Sukob” (2006).

The movie’s well-made teaser trailer was an effective come-on. The moment I saw it, I knew that I was going to watch the film.

The plot

Vilma plays Seth, a woman who runs a boarding house in a middle-class community in the city.

Her father, Odong (Robert Arevalo), is successfully treated for his post-stroke condition by a faith healer named Elsa (Daria Ramirez).

Because of this, 5 of Seth’s friends (and neighbors) convince her to bring them to Elsa so that they may also get their various medical maladies treated. Seth’s son, Jed (Martin del Rosario), also brings along his half-sister Cookie (Kim Chiu) so her kidney condition could be cured.

After the day of the healing, each person treated by Elisa dies of strange and violent circumstances, each one more bizarre than the last. Before each death, Seth would be visited by a crow and a puzzling vision of her friend’s doppelganger.

She has to race against time to find out why this is happening and stop it before everyone in the group dies.

What we think

After the first character dies, you already know how the story would go.

The suspense you feel as you watch grows, but this is in anticipation of the gory way the next character will die, not because you do not know what will happen next. To Rono’s credit, each “death scene” would top the last one as far as gore and blood are concerned.

The cast did well, too.

Vilma Santos is Vilma Santos. She will always be bigger than her roles. This is not to say that she did not perform well; she did. But, watching her, you see Vilma more than Seth — too strong to ignore.

Kim Chiu appeared in very few scenes despite her second billing. As with her performances on TV, she would have done better if she injected more energy into her role.

I did not know Martin del Rosario before this movie, but he delivered very well in his crucial role as Jed.

I’m not really sure why Ynez Veneracion had to show her right boob in a scene — maybe for old times’ sake.

Several camera angles used by Mr. Rono were very well-planned and executed, maximizing the tension onscreen.

Like other productions (movies and theater plays) I watch nowadays, there was color coordination in the outfits/costumes of the characters onscreen. In “The Healing,” though, I did not quite get why a certain color was chosen to be the “theme” of a scene. It was too obvious, that when a scene’s color scheme continued into an unrelated scene, it became distracting.

Many common scare tactics and music were employed in the film. Thankfully, there was no Sadako-like creature in this one (if you still don’t know who Sadako is, Google “The Ring” Japanese version — or search on YouTube). 

Overall, “The Healing” is okay.

It is similar to other horror films in the way the friends of the lead female character are dying around her and it is up to her to break the curse.

If it was Kris Aquino who played Seth instead of Vilma Santos, the movie would just be “Feng Shui” all over again.

Have you seen the movie? Let us know if you agree or disagree with Fred’s review. Post your comments below. –

Fred Hawson is a physician and surgeon by trade who enjoys blogging about movies, theater and music. To read more of his reviews, visit his blog,

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