‘Trip Ubusan: The Lolas vs. Zombies’ review: Uncommitted to be anything
Trip Ubusan: The Lolas vs. Zombies is actually a fairly enjoyable diversion.
Director Mark Reyes does belabor the set-up by uncomfortably juggling scenes that introduce the various groups who will later team-up for the sake of survival. But when the zombie-led chaos starts to happen, the film actually produces ample amounts of corny fun and tension. For sure, it isn’t wholly a waste of time.
What is bothersome about the film is how in its dire effort to be the kind of entertainment that is apt for everyone, it inevitably fails to be anything other than a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas.
One actually does not need to see the entire movie to see how confused the film is. In what feels like an ill-conceived attempt to strike two birds with one stone, the film’s title already references to somewhat current pop culture fads, the first being very recent blockbuster hit Train to Busan and the second being the time-wasting gaming app Plants vs. Zombies.
The plot is of course borrowed from the popular Korean film, with a trio of peculiar grandmas (Wally Bayola, Jose Manalo and Paolo Ballesteros) joining an oddball group of survivors on a bus trip to a place that is reportedly safe of zombies. The absurd conceit, which Reyes unfortunately does not utilize to its full comedic potential, is that the film’s geriatric protagonists would be forced to turn into action heroines to protect their ward (Caprice Cayetano) from the murderous undead.
The film itself is as muddled as its title, with Reyes switching from comedy to romance to action to horror in the crudest of ways.
The film doesn’t really work as a parody of zombie movies because at some point, it definitely feels like Reyes is actually taking the sub-genre with seriousness that defeats the purpose of irreverent comedy. The film is inconsistent in its aim, resulting in something that sends the most frustratingly mixed of signals. Its various elements just don’t blend at all, ending up in a film that is both disjointed and disposable.
Never funny or thrilling enough
Despite featuring Bayola, Manalo and Ballesteros whose ingenious gimmick of turning themselves into fashionable moral lesson-touting grandmas is a hit on television, the film still fails to be comedic enough with its collection of jokes that feel used.
Despite Reyes’ resolve to come up with a zombie flick that doesn’t look and feel cheap and shoddy, the film still fails to be thrilling enough with set pieces whose horror potential is thwarted by aimless nonsense.
The film just never amounts to anything solid or hefty enough to matter. It all feels like a fleeting joke. Maybe it really is meant to be one staggered joke. However, there are bits and pieces of clever humor and real drama scattered throughout the film that exposes all the wasted potential that a little bit of directorial focus would be able to cure.
Simply put, Trip Ubusan: The Lolas vs. Zombies suffers from its blatant lack of commitment.
Trip Ubusan: The Lolas vs. Zombies isn’t just good enough to merit the substantial price tag of a movie ticket. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.