Mikhail Red’s Eerie is a sheep in wolf’s clothing.
It has all the opulence and polish to terrify but at the end of it all, it is just too tame and timid a horror film to make a real lasting impression.
Pile of tropes
Perhaps the most glaring problem is that its horror rests on a premise that has been used and reused for decades.
A nun-managed girl’s school has a baffling epidemic of student deaths. Despite the seeming disinterest of the school’s flock of nuns, Pat Consolacion (Bea Alonzo), the school’s guidance counselor, is hell-bent on finding out exactly is behind the mysterious deaths of her beloved students even if her efforts would unravel secrets.
Writers Red, Rae Red, and Mariah Reodica inexplicably crowd the plot with characters culled from clichés. Pat, a mostly brooding protagonist, is cursed with nightmares that allows her a convenient entry point to her investigation. There’s Mother Alice (Charo Santos), an icily and emotionally callous nun, who appears to have a dastardly past that is shrouded by her religious garb. There is the sympathetic investigator (Jake Cuenca), the troubled teen (Gabby Padilla) and the misunderstood specter (Gillian Vicencio).
Eerie is just an unwieldy pile of tropes.
More frustrating is how the film bungles those tropes with its hesitation to just be downright perverse. Eerie already has Catholic guilt to desecrate, yet it wavers in its depiction of perversion, stubbornly insisting on the safety of convention. The film is middling. It is neither great or abysmal. It just fails to be as remarkable as it could have been had Red really pushed the envelope and made a more vicious and visceral horror.
Sure, the film can be read as a parable of mental illness or the tyranny of creed over individual plights.
The ploys of Eerie are malleable enough to mean anything, from contemporary oppressions dealt by the current political regime or timeless cruelties that stem from unmoving doctrines. It is all good. It only means that Red manages to contemporize a glaringly derivative conceit, even if it is only through minute details that are buried in the film’s collection of red herrings, scare tactics, twists and turns.
There are truly potentially good scares here.
Red is an impeccable craftsman, setting up frights with a measured and mannered technique that takes into consideration the importance of a tormenting visual and aural design. Sadly, the meticulous setups often end up with shoddy shocks, again revealing that Eerie refuses to elevate the genre but to pander to its formula. It ends up lacking in dread and disgust.
Not eerie enough
Simply put, Red’s first foray into horror, no matter what its title insists on, is just not eerie enough. – 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.