On the return of the popular horror franchise, it seems that this latest installment is more violent than ever. I’ve been an on and off fan of this series and I don’t ever remember it being this bloody and this violent (though I have missed a few of the more recent additions to this series). All three short films that make up ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll: Extreme’ are gory, action-packed, and very bloody. There’s a self-awareness and a campy aspect to the amount of blood that’s getting splattered on each of the films but it’s all in good fun and part and parcel of the movie as it continues to explore those fears of the modern Filipino, though unevenly.
The first installment, ‘Glitch’ by director Richard Somes and written by Anton Santamaria has a classic horror set up: a single mom living in a big house with her two children and a nanny. It’s a singular location that happens within the span of two or three days and as the family is falling apart, a supernatural entity insinuates itself into the family through corrupting the youngest daughter, Lyka, via the Internet.
In its appearances, ‘Glitch’ proposes that evil – even the devil – is now capable of spreading itself through media, and now digitally by online means. There’s a colonial tone that hangs above this film as the devil disguises itself as an American children’s show called Gary the Goat and that’s such a nice touch. The devil is an American construct that makes its way here to terrorize this family.
But what makes ‘Glitch’ so strong is that it is grounded in real-world situation. Iza Calzado plays Ingrid, a single mother of two children who have different fathers. The older child, Patrick (played by Migs Cuaderno) treats Lyka (Jewel Phiona Milag) with disdain, calls her a “demon” and always stresses that she’s his half-sister. A single mom and a widower, Calzado’s Ingrid seems like a woman at the end of her rope. She’s exhausted, obviously working so hard to keep their wealthy lifestyle going but has no time for either child. She’s an imperfect mother but she loves her children. This is Calzado working her magic and creating so much depth and history with a character with such short running time.
Rounding out the cast is Donna Cariaga as the nanny, who gives Calzado a chance to really impress upon us the cracks of this family. It’s Cariaga and Calzao’s interactions that gives the film its heart and soul. So, when Gary the Goat begins to haunt this family (and in such violent ways), we are rooting for this family even if Patrick and Lyka can be quite annoying as children.
Somes has some excellent visuals, including an attack in the yard with an unusual number of white blankets hanging out to dry. It’s bloody and gruesome but it’s lovely to view. The devil is violent and there’s a lot of action here – sometimes even to a hilariously unrealistic level. The editing could use less busy-ness and give us time to see what’s happening rather than cutting so quickly as to hide the movements.
As scary and as violent as ‘Glitch’ can be, the film is grounded by its roots in family tragedy – it is the plight of the modern family, so busy with their individual lives that they are no longer communicating and thus becoming vulnerable to outside influences as represented by the internet. It’s a strong piece.
But as poignant as ‘Glitch’ can be, the second film is the deliciously funny ‘Mukbang’ by Jerrold Tarog and written by Tarog and Onay Sales-Camero. Bloggers and influences are the main characters in this piece as they all arrive at a secluded mansion for a massive collab. This is equal parts horror and comedy and while we know Tarog can do horror via his film ‘Bliss,’ his comedic touches are such a welcome tool in his arsenal as a director.
As the film’s title suggests, ‘Mukbang’ is going to involve eating. Of course, the question will always be what will be eaten and by whom. That I will leave to the audience to enjoy but what makes ‘Mukbang’ the most enjoyable installment of ‘Shake Rattle and Roll: Extreme’ is that the jokes are organic to the situation and blends in perfectly with the horror elements of the narrative. Never does Tarog make fun or ridicule the bloggers and influencers for what they do. Let’s face it: there are too many shows and movies that make fun of them for being bloggers and influencers. Here, it’s used for its comedic potential: at the height of a life-threatening situation, two bloggers decide to go live as almost a reflex. On another scene, two influencers who are known as a couple online have a fight about the status of their relationship. They continue their argument while running for their lives. It’s so funny because, in this instance, it’s emblematic of this generation’s ability to multi-task.
‘Mukbang’ is funny because it’s witty and clever. It never goes for cheap laughs, nor does it go out of its way to ridicule its characters. It treats their characters with such affection, and it shows with how the performances really push the total effect to meet its full potential. Standouts in this episode are RK Bagatsing, Esnyr Ranolo, AC Bonifacio, Phi Palmos, and Ninong Ry.
Unfortunately, the last episode of ‘Shake Rattle and Roll: Extreme’ is the weakest of the three. ‘Rage’ is about a group of friends who are caught in what appears to be an extra-terrestrial attack that sends people into a blind rage. This episode, directed by Joey De Guzman and written by Trisha Mae Delez, suffers from a lack of context and underdeveloped characters. The film is more interested in its huge set pieces and post-apocalyptic action sequences than hunkering down and laying out a proper story.
Lead by Jane De Leon, we never get to see De Leon’s Trina and her friends establish their bonds of friendship. Trina is supposed to be in a relationship with Moze (Paolo Gumabao) but we never get to see this relationship at play. The interactions between characters are never more than the need to survive as the zombie-like creatures begin to take center stage.
We don’t know who these characters are. Trina is supposed to be a med student waiting for word on whether she passed the board exam or not, but we never get to see her use this so it’s not even an important story element that could have been in a dramatic situation such as this. We don’t know where they were going, nor does it create any urgency to do so other than that Trina wants to see her mom.
Without any development of its characters, ‘Rage’ just becomes action scene after action scene where I don’t feel invested in any of the character’s survival. The film manages to showcase Jane De Leon’s capability of being a solid action actress, but ‘Rage’ gives her very little to do in terms of character work that I can’t tell the range she can bring to a project.
‘Shake Rattle and Roll: Extreme’ is a worthy continuation of the classic, legacy series that is ‘Shake Rattle and Roll.’ There’re some very good moments here, some genuine scares, and the first two films really make full use of the genre to talk about some serious issues that we are scared of. If Regal Films can continue this level of quality for the series, they should keep doing it for more years to come.