[MMFF 2014]: ‘Feng Shui 2’ Review: Twice the tedium

Oggs Cruz
''Feng Shui 2' is never truly scary, never truly funny, and more importantly, never truly entertaining,' writes movie reviewer Oggs Cruz
KRIS IN FENG SHUI 2. A scene from the MMFF 2014 entry. Screengrab from YouTube/Star Cinema

Chito Roño’s Feng Shui (2004) was released at a time when Filipinos were hungry for horror.

There was Hideo Nakata’s Ringu (1998, local release 2002), Takashi Shimizu’s Ju-On (2002, local release 2004), and other horror films of the same ilk followed suit.

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Feng Shui proved to be quite a success with its unabashed appropriation a lot of the style and technique of its Japanese counterparts, without being too much of a copycat. 

Of course, extremely popular Kris Aquino, who plays the film’s heroine with nary an effort to look convincingly terrorized, is part and parcel of the film’s hefty haul at the box office. Roño and Aquino would again team-up to redo Feng Shui’s magic with Sukob (2006).

Later on, Roño would come up with horror flicks with other big-name stars like T2 (2009) and The Healing (2012). Similarly, Aquino would also star in horror films helmed by other directors such as Dondon Santos’ Dalaw (2010) and Joyce Bernal’s Segunda Mano (2011). However, despite the moderate accomplishments of either their collaborative or individual efforts, Feng Shui remains unmatched. 

Ten years after 

It seems that Feng Shui’s allure has something to do with its subject matter, which is essentially the creation of horror out of the exoticism of Chinese culture within a Filipino landscape. The film’s preoccupation with punishing greed with the death of loved ones points to a moral dilemma a lot of Filipinos are forced to face: what are you willing to give up to rise above your misfortunes?

Feng Shui 2 has Aquino’s Joy being revisited by the bagwa she thought she was able to escape from in the first film. She has moved on from the tragedies she previously encountered, but when she crosses path with Lester (played by Coco Martin), the thief-for-hire who has been chosen by the cursed trinket to be showered with good fortune, it becomes imperative that she get rid of the bagwa once and for all.

The decade that separates the two Feng Shui films is quite apparent in how both films attempt their scares. Feng Shui is more deliberate and more mannered, more akin to the Asian films it sought to emulate. Feng Shui 2, on the other hand, relies predominantly on shock and gore. Sadly, its own methods are defeated by its insistence to be tame for its mainstream audience. 

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Promises meant to be broken 

There is a lot of promise within Feng Shui 2. Roño raises the stakes with Lester, whose lot seems to be more desperate than Joy’s in the first film. Riddled with debts and supporting an alcoholic mother (Carmi Martin), he seems to be the perfect character to be granted the moral dilemma that the bagwa presents.

COCO MARTIN. The actor shines in 'Feng Shui 2.' Screengrab from YouTube

Unfortunately, Lester’s story is but half of the film. The other half belongs to Joy, whose present situation is hardly dire enough to really care for. Haunted by the spectre of ghoulish Lotus Feet while managing the overacting beau (Ian Veneracion), she’s only in it for self-preservation, nothing more. In other words, her narrative is flat and uninteresting. 

Thus, when Lester’s tale gives way to Joy’s, the film’s initial promise gets broken. Roño does everything he can to keep things interesting by raising the ante, increasing the power of the bagwa, and introducing double deaths. However, the film just gets unreasonably sillier and in turn, less terrifying.

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Indie prince and horror queen

Martin manages to stay afloat amidst the absurdity of the film. He grants the film its intended grit and semblance of humanity.

Aquino, however, seems to be too into the film to acknowledge all the foolishness. Alongside Cherry Pie Picache, who humorously plays a businesswoman whose logic and reason give way to her innate greed, Aquino seems to be taking things too seriously to allow for the film to be rescued and flurry down the path of camp, which is actually where the film rightfully belongs.

WARNING. Kris' character warns of trouble approaching. Screengrab from YouTube

Feng Shui 2 is never truly scary, never truly funny, and more importantly, never truly entertaining. When it attempts to innovate, it comes too late, just right after the credits are rolling, and when the bagwa’s powers are multiplied under terms that are understandable in this world consumed by social media. Everything else before that is either empty promise or utter tedium. – 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.