I started 2011 doing something I never thought I'd do. Something I've never done in the past seven years--watch a Metro Manila Film Fest (MMFF) film. The last I saw was Lastikman with Vic Sotto in the starring role.
So there I was watching Shake, Rattle, and Roll--the twelfth reiteration to my surprise--and the first one, "Mamanyika," was so full of plot holes that I had that "what the hell am I watching?" moment. So we're shown a husband and wife arguing in the car, on a rainy night, while their two daughters sit in the back. After some time they all get out of the car and the wife pushes her husband who gets hit by a car. While hysterics ensue, the wife gets run down by a larger vehicle and gets killed. The husband survives but becomes wheelchair-bound since.
The daughters pay a visit to their mother's grave a year later and the younger of the two finds an old doll buried on the ground. And in typical Filipino "shock" fashion, the first thing they do is add a scary looking old man who tenders the cemetery ground looking down on the girl.
The young girl forms a bond with the doll especially when it starts talking back to her, saying that it would take care of her from that point forward.
It is revealed later in a flashback that the doll has been possessed by its original owner, a lady who died in a loony-bin but not before making a promise to take "revenge" on those who wronged her.
I got lost when it got to this part and all I remember was the cheesy graphic of Mamanyika being thrown up in the air which was then shot down by Shaina Magdayao only for it to fall into the same pool where their father was pushed into by the same doll.
The second story, "Isla," featured three female friends who want to celebrate their single blessedness by partying in a secluded island where there are no cellphone signal and internet connection available. Ahhh forget it. I don't want to waste my time writing about this one. The only thing worth mentioning here is that John Lapus is one funny guy. He brought the funny in this one without trying too much.
Anyway, I really want to get to my point why I think the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise needs to go. And that is the last story, "Punerarya".
I had very little hope for this one since the first two I didn't really like.
"Punerarya" introduces teacher Dianne, who specializes in home-tutoring I guess, and her two unique students--a girl and a boy--whose home is the mortuary that their family runs. The people in the funeral parlor wear sunglasses and at first I thought, no big deal in that one. Maybe they're just weird. So according to Carlo (Sid Lucero), the guy whom I assume are the kids' father, explain to Dianne that her would-be students are sensitive to strong light. Again, ok, nothing wrong there. Then Aludia, played by veteran actress Odette Khan, shows Dianne around and tells her the strict house rules. I've always loved Odette Khan's acting and she was on her game in this one. Which is why I think you can never really say anything bad about veteran actors here in the Philippines. Back then, they were really all about making their characters believable unlike today when some get away with being pa-cutesy. Is that even a word?
In her ominous voice, Aludia finally gives off the impression that there probably is something wrong with this household. Now, Dianne breaks one of the cardinal rules by taking a picture of the kids with the automatic flash of her camera turned on. Come on. Really? Anybody knows that the built-in flash in any camera will always give you over-exposed pictures.
When Dianne sees the pictures, not only was she surprised with the over-exposure, she sees that the kids didn't have any iris! And there I was half-hoping that what Dianne would see was that the chairs were empty.
So naturally, Dianne investigates she's probably thinking what-the-eff-is-going-on?!?!? She then breaks another rule by going up into the attic (since it's always scary in the attic or in the basement) where she discovers a room where people are eaten alive.
Now here is where it gets juicy--pun intended (just to change it up a bit).
Carlo, Aludia, and the other members of the black sunglasses hold Dianne hostage but not before she makes a call to her brother. Rains and all, her brother arrive at the funeral home and their game of cat and mouse begins.
I didn't know who the actress playing Dianne was until I got home and did some googling and found that it was a newcomer, Carla Abellana. I was somewhat impressed with her acting especially in the part where her brother was taken hostage (don't ask me how this happened because things were happening so fast I got lost) and she finally decided enough was enough and she was done playing scared.
They manage to escape the house and they take the boy with them only to realize that the boy planned for things to happen all along since he was tired of eating the innards of the dead bodies that are brought to them by unknowing clients. It is then shown that the boy has eaten Dennis' insides and after he is done with his monologue, he turns his attention to Dianne for some more fresh meat.
Now, if it still ain't obvious, I really liked "Punerarya." So why would I want the Shake, Rattle, and Roll franchise offed? Because it has run its course and instead of wasting money on less than mediocre atrocities such as "Mamanyika" and "Isla," it is time to make really good full-length horror films once again. The last Filipino horror film that I could say I really liked was "Feng Shui" with Kris Aquino in the leading role.
As with "Feng Shui," I feel that if "Punerarya" had been made into a two-hour film, the story would have been better paced. The ridiculousness of the part where Dennis forgets to point out that he knows where the keys are hidden could have probably been avoided. And the background of the other characters in the household would have been explored more.
Now if I had my way, I'd do just that. Since "Punerarya" ended without really establishing whether Dianne was eaten by the young boy or not, I'd continue the story exactly at that point. The story progresses with Dianne trying her best to escape from her own house, then finding out that somebody from the mortuary had survived (most probably Aludia's husband who was last seen shouting cryptic words presumably at Dianne while she, Dennis, and the boy escaped), the boy growing more powerful the more he eats fresh meat, and then Dianne finally figuring out a way to kill the boy ala-Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil. Now who wouldn't want to see a Filipina kick-ass heroine like that?