Movie Review for Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles

The Joy of the Macabre

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Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles is a lot of fun. That may be the best way to describe it. The conversation about this movie has largely been dominated by how it’s all shot in front of a green screen and how it uses a lot of special effects. But that’s not what the appeal of this movie really is. The beating heart of the movie is director Erik Matti and his twisted and macabre sense of humor. The film goes to dark, violent places and asks people to laugh along. It is a genuinely unique vision that people really ought to see.

Makoy (Dingdong Dantes) arrives in the provincial village of Pulupandan to win back the heart of his pregnant girlfriend Sonia (Lovi Poe). He immediately finds himself rebuffed by Sonia and her mother Fely (Janice de Belen). Makoy sticks around, however, and plans a surprise birthday party for Sonia with her father (Joey Marquez). Makoy’s arrogant ways earn him the ire of a family of pig farmers. Unfortunately for the young man, this is a family with a secret: they are all aswang. And when the younger members of the clan hear about his pregnant girlfriend, they make a plan to sneak into the house to eat the fetus. It isn’t long before angry monsters come knocking at their door, and it’s up to Makoy to protect his love.

The film revels in blood and guts and all the other things that really shouldn’t be outside a body. And it does quite creatively. Where else might one see intestines twirled around a giant wooden fork like spaghetti? The film manages to be uniquely Filipino about its violence, tying all of it to a larger culture of familial bonds and shared superstition. The film does it all with tongue firmly in cheek, a streak of cultural satire running through the seemingly endless mayhem. And it still manages to tell a pretty decent story, with characters that feel distinctly familiar, living in a house environment that feels oddly true.

The film isn’t really just about aswang. Its real bite lies in its characters, like the swaggering Manileño protagonist who thinks he can always get his way, or the neighborhood storekeeper who takes some joy in the failure of her neighbors. Embedded in the overt violence is Matti’s distinct sense of humor. The production isn’t as tight as it could be, however. It can be hard to follow the action sequences at times, the film clearly straining under the weight of all the special effects. The CG monsters are okay, but not particularly impressive. The sound mix is weirdly unbalanced as well. Still, considering the scale of the production, it all came out well enough.

Dingdong Dantes is really exceptional in roles that call for more of an edge. He excels at being standoffish, at having more confidence than a human should reasonably possess. The film makes great use of Dantes’ particular talents, and it makes for a very enjoyable performance. Lovi Poe doesn’t stand out as much in this picture, but she does a fine job overall. Janice de Belen and Joey Marquez are dynamite in the picture, with Marquez in particular stealing the entire movie in one hilariously twisted scene. This is a great cast overall, and they all seem to having fun through all of it.

I feel that it is my responsibility to note that while Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles is rated PG, it is extremely violent. Far more violent than films given harsher ratings. Parents that don’t want their children exposed to eviscerations, beheadings, and general dismemberment should be warned. That said, if you have a taste for the macabre, this film really delivers. Though the production is a little frayed around the edge, those flaws do little to detract from the overall dark, violent fun that the film provides.

My Rating:



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