YouTube movie reviews: 'Yanggaw,' 'Confessional,' 'Sa North Diversion Road'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Mar 28 2020 03:59 PM

YANGGAW (2008)

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Director: Richard Somes
Writer: Richard Somes 

In a rural town in Iloilo, there lived the family of Junior (Ronnie Lazaro) and Inday (Techie Agbayani), who had two adult children, namely Toto (Gio Respall) with his wife and two kids, and Amor (Alleera Montalla). One day, Amor was afflicted by a strange malady which caused her to display bizarre behavior at night. Consult with a local healer Lazarus (Erik Matti in an offbeat performance) revealed that Amor had become a blood-thirsty aswang. Despite this terrifying fact, Junior remained staunchly defensive and protective of his daughter. 

This film used the lilting Ilonggo tongue, and the whole cast seemed very at ease and natural with the language. Lazaro was excellent as the father who would do anything to keep his daughter safe and satisfied, even when it meant putting the rest of his household and neighborhood (including Joel Torre as his friend Dulpo) in mortal danger. His decisions may be unreasonable, yet you can still empathize with his predicament. For me, this film worked better as a family drama than a horror film. That pivotal scene when Junior made his ultimate choice was a hallmark of extreme tension. 

CONFESSIONAL (2007)

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Directors: Jerrold Tarog, Ruel Dahis Antipuesto
Writer: Jerrold Tarog 

Ryan Pastor (David Barril, screen name of Jerrold Tarrog himself), a film editor from Manila, went to Cebu with his live-in girlfriend Monet (Owee Salva) to film a documentary about the Sinulog Festival for submission to a contest. One of the people he interviewed for his project was a wealthy man named Lito Caliso (Publio Briones III), a former mayor from Mindanao, who had lived in Cebu for five years now. After talking about the Sinulog, Caliso inexplicably went on to tell Pastor all about heinous criminal activities he had done before. 

This film started off slowly with mundane stuff about Ryan and Monet's relationship, then about the Sinulog itself. However, once the character of Lito Caliso came into the scene, it becomes totally riveting. I knew Publio Briones III from his recent film "A Short History of a Few Bad Things" (Keith Deligero, 2018). He was the best part of that film as he was the best part of this one. He had a screen presence like no other, so sinister yet so mesmerizing. That ending was so powerful it will shock you. The final image of Ryan holding the camera even made it to the logo of Cinema One itself. Director Jerrold Tarrog made his feature film directorial debut with this one, and we all know where he is now. He had fulfilled the promise he made with this stunning debut.

SA NORTH DIVERSION ROAD (2005)

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Director: Dennis Marasigan
Writers: Dennis Marasigan

A man Tony and his wife Mae are driving in their sedan along the North Diversion Road (now known as the NLEX or North Luzon Expressway). They were arguing all along the way because the wife found out that her husband had been engaged in an affair with another woman Charmaine. Along the long drive at every exit, we will witness this marital spat proceed in 10 different iterations by 10 couples each with their own unique idiosyncrasies. 

Based on a play by Tony Perez, this cinematic adaptation by writer-director Dennis Marasigan, all 10 couples were brought to life by only two talented actors, namely Irma Adlawan and John Arcilla. As the conversations in their car turned from melodramatic to slapstick, from profane to absurd, Adlawan and Arcilla were always on point as they shifted with their varied characters giving each one their own distinct style and personality. Marasigan's gimmick made this film a very engaging one, showing us how many different ways a couple could bicker with each other, yet all these scenarios still came to the same sobering outcome.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."