The movie as a whole can be a good experience especially to those who are a scaredy cat. For those who have watched a lot of horror movies and expecting international types of scares and jumps, this is not for you. The movie is focused on Filipino beliefs and traditions and the story revolves about family and friendship. There are problems in the movie that were not solved and attempted building of love teams in the future. It is as if they are preparing us for a second movie and established so many problems and stories that the movie has lost its focus. The climax was very exciting although it feels that the direction was all over the place. However, it is still a good movie for your friends and family to enjoy. Cinematography, production design, and make-up were all good. Visual effects are okay, but not in all aspects of the movie.
First MMFF entry to watch: HAUNTED FOREST. Decided to watch this because among all others available in our cinemas (The Revenger Squad, Ang Panday, Meant To Beh) this is the only film that was selected by the MMFF based on finish films instead of based on submitted scripts. And here's my thoughts on the film:
Haunted Forest got nothing new served on the table, it is the same usual Filipino horror film following the traditional and already exhausting plot flow. The difference that this film have to separate itself from other local horror films is its introduction of a new supernatural entity that causes the succeeding unexplainable deaths in a particular province. Being the only horror film in the current festival, it offers no advantage in comparison to last year's festival sole horror film entry Seklusyon. It had a slow start and honestly only showcased its commitment to its genre in the last 15 minutes of the film, but still highly predictable because of its redundancy in presentation. There were sequences as well featuring poorly edited visual effects.
Haunted Forest possibly got its nod from MMFF committee because of its excellent cinematography by R. Sales (who also did a great job on last year's Saving Sally). Jane Oineza could also possibly land nomination as Best Actress, without her compelling acting lead, the film's horror factor will be much lesser convincing. The attempt though to create romantic connection among the four teenage leads also isn't as effective because of its seemingly lack of chemistry as a pair (Jane-Jameson; Maris-Jon). Apart from Jane's superb acting, Maris' natural bubbly personality and Joey Marquez' slapstick comedy help in making the audience bit engaged on screen.
Overall, Haunted Forest is like a replacement to Lily Monterverde's Shake Rattle Roll series and we are all so fed up with the similarity.