Nothing Scary

I see ghosts, people!

Sundo could be compared to a kind of bomb that explodes quickly. It merely tries to scare and once the fright passes, you’ll say: that’s it? I am not after the explosion as it vanishes into thin air. What the film lacks is the ideal anticipation within the story. They could have exploited this element as this could be its strength. Apparently they are aware of this but they used it in a wrong sense. It is not the bomb explosion that would give the scare. It is how they will hide the bomb, move it, displace it before detonating it that even the keenest of the spectator will go berserk once it shows up.

What I am talking about is that the anticipation for the horror phenomena to happen is too uninspired. They are trying this effect every now and then in the film but it does not give out the scare. It’s too derivative from other horror features and the slightest feeling of anticipation might never transpire. To create a story is not only having the potential to scare (whatever you call it) as fear itself is a primal emotion in its quiddity. But the director must constantly find means of extracting the viscera from the audience in ways that are culturally and temporally relevant.

The story is about Romano played by the ever robust action-star Robin Padilla who recently got a terrible accident in a military operation. After he was healed, he goes back to his hometown in Baguio to live in seclusion. Things changed after Louella (Sunshine Dizon) pays a visit and offers a peace offering (due to a family feud years back) by helping Romano’s sister Isabel (Rhian Ramos) for her eye operation. He accepts the offer and they go to Manila with Louella.

The strength of Sundo is rendered through its cinematography. It is well thought off and could be an achievement on a technical aspect in making horror films. The screenplay could have the similar formulas of Asian Horror films that have proliferated in the past decade. If it could have layered the story more, it is possible to have more edge especially if it will be compared with its contemporaries. Actually, it is not entirely the story that could be the problem with the film. The style is there, but obviously, the execution of the film is just too lethargic to each horror scenario.

In the story, the horror started during their travel to Manila. Romano has a premonition that their van will encounter a horrific accident. So Romano has made all means to stop it from happening and he now sees ghosts every now and then. They seek help from a local necromancer and it is confirmed that the ghosts Romano sees are their ‘sundo’ and they could not get away from their macabre fate.

If they could have played more with our local beliefs, the film could have been more interesting. I am not getting frightened and I am bored to death with what is happening within the story. I think the audience too will agree with how the film has delivered and going back to the worth of what they paid for in this film, they should be offered half the ticket price. Sundo certainly disappoints in most aspects (except for the cinematography). Its promise of terror did not reach my expectation as a viewer who wants to be flabbergasted with how rich our culture could possibly inspire a good horror story.

Charlie Koon's Rating:

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