It’s a bit strange that a horror anthology has become a bit of a Christmas tradition for our country. But once again, Shake Rattle & Roll returns with a tenth installment, bringing three new horror/fantasy stories to frighten children over Christmastime. The result is also tradition: a mixed bag of stories that range in quality from poor to somewhat okay.
As with all movies in the series, this is an anthology of three horror stories. In Emergency, a small hospital unwittingly bears the wrath of a group of bloodthirsty aswang. In Class Picture, a group of students spend the weekend at their school to finish a project, but soon fall victim to the spirit of a demented nun with a grudge against her students. And in Nieves, we follow the adventures of the titular character, an engkanto slayer who goes into retirement when her husband falls prey to malevolent forces. Some time later, a young boy brings her out of retirement to help save his uncle as the uneasy truce between humans and engkantos wears thin.
The stories in anthologies tend to vary in quality, and this one is no exception. Emergency is probably the weakest. It doesn’t have any real narrative drive, and unnecessary character details drag down the pace. It isn’t very scary either, relying on quick shocks instead of building atmosphere. Class Picture is much better at maintaining its horror, with some clever direction from Topel Lee. He keeps things simple, building to his scares and letting the tension grow throughout the film. The script, however, doesn’t keep pace with the direction. The decisions the characters make all feel terribly artificial, moving them from one to place to another without any real reason. Nieves is the most fun, though it does feel like it goes on for far too long. Of the three, it does have the strongest script, managing some funny moments while incorporation mythological elements. It doesn’t quite make sense in the end, but it’s easy enough to forgive. The editing is a little weak, but great cinematography more than makes up for it.
There are really too many actors in the cast to mention, but there are a few standouts. Marian Rivera puts on a pretty strong performance as Nieves. She looks like she’s having a lot of fun in the role, and her earnestness in the role shows. Roxanne Guinoo puts on the weakest performance of the film, being completely unconvincing throughout the whole film. Emergency is all that good to begin with, but Guinoo’s wooden delivery really hobbles the short.
Shake, Rattle and Roll X is a pretty mixed bag. Emergency is pretty weak, Class Picture has atmosphere but no script to fill it, and Nieves is fun and well-shot, but poorly edited. The biggest problem, really, is that the three shorts add up to a pretty long run time, and with such a hit-and-miss experience, it’s difficult to recommend the entire thing to anyone. There’s certainly a lot of promise in these pictures, but in this case, promise just isn’t enough.