The nanny is an integral part of many Filipino households. There are many children who retain the services of their nanny when they grow up and have children of their own. There have been Filipino films about nannies, like "Inang Yaya" (Pablo Biglang-awa & Veronica Velasco, 2006). There have even been foreign films about Filipinas who became nannies in other countries, like "Ilo Ilo" (Anthony Chen, 2013). Surely though, there would never be another nanny film like Kip Oebanda's "Nay."
Martin Koa was left by his parents to his nanny Nay Luisa since his childhood when they left to work abroad. Martin reached young adulthood under Nay's care and worked in the company owned and run by his trusted friend and cousin, Francis. One day though, Martin was stricken with a terminal illness. Since he was all she had, Nay could not just allow Martin to die knowing that she could give him immortality -- even if it meant she herself would die, and that he would become a blood-thirsty murderer.
Despite a logjam of excellent lead women characters in the festival this year, I think Sylvia Sanchez stands the best chance to win the Best Actress prize. Her portrayal of a surrogate mother willing to do everything for her ward was made more challenging by imbuing her with an underlying secret monster persona. Enchong Dee's skill in acting also rose higher to meet the high standards set by Ms. Sanchez. His character's inner conflicts were well-conveyed by Dee's external physical suffering.
Of the four films I had seen during this Cinema One Originals film festival, this was the one with the most remarkable cinematography and editing, very clear and cleanly done. This was despite having a lot of scenes set in the dark of night, as the story would require. That climactic bloodbath in the 11th hour was the most well-executed massacre scene I had ever seen in a local horror film. The special effects employed for the various gory killings, particular Francis' final scene, were so cleanly done, so realistically ghastly.
During Nay's training of her reluctant apprentice Martin, there were moral discussions about how so much easier it was to kill the poor. There were pointed political statements being made here as these scenes reflected current issues of the drug war and EJKs. There was even a scene that recreated the viral photograph of a girl cradling her dead relative on the street to make the connection even clearer.
The bloody supernatural monster angle aside, the heart of "Nay" is a captivating drama of two lonely people who only had each other in the world, a case of "two of us against the world." Here the sacrifice of love and life of Nay to Martin can be considered a gift or a curse depending on who is looking at the situation. Nay only had the prolongation of Martin's life in her mind. But Martin cannot accept the dire consequences of this renewed life. This moral impasse made for a very interesting dilemma to watch unfold on the screen. 8/10
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."