Shake, Rattle, and Roll 14: The Invasion (2012) ni Chito Roño


OF ALL THE MMFF ENTRIES in 2012, I decided to watch Shake, Rattle and Roll 14: The Invasion first for two guilty pleasure reasons: the SRR series itself & Chito Roño.

Who grew up in the 90’s and not have a memory of being equally scared & fascinated of even one SRR episode? For me, the most memorable episodes feature: Manilyn Reynes in the “Aswang” episode of SRR II (1990), where she played the role of someone tricked into going to a barrio of aswangs by her own friend; Aiza Seguerra playing a child lured by a witawit in “Kapitbahay” episode of SRR IV (1992); and, also from SRR IV, the late Miguel Rodriguez playing the role of manananggal in “Madre” episode.

It was only two or three years ago when I saw the very first installment of the series. (I was only three when it was first shown in 1984). Nonetheless, I grew up with my tito’s and tita’s talking about how scared they were after seeing the “Pridyider” episode. (It was awfully remade last September: the remake exposed whatever was inside––and literally, the depths underneath––the fridge, and it lost all the uncanny that was in the original by National Artist Ishmael Bernal.)

On the other hand, I’ve always been curious with Roño’s mainstream filmic ventures: from his Maricel Soriano dramas (Separada; Minsan Ling Kita Iibigin; Dahas; Nasaan ang Puso?) to his Rosanna Roces thrillers (Curacha, ang Babaing Walang Pahinga; Ang Babae sa Bintana; La Vida Rosa) interspersed with Lualhati Bautista adaptations (Dekada ’70Bata, Bata… Pa’no Ka Ginawa?) and Kris Aquino horrors (Feng Shui; Sukob). And so I was extra-excited when I learned that he alone would be directing all the three episodes of the latest SRR, something not previously done in the series. (True, Lore Reyes & Peque Gallaga directed all the episodes of the second to the fourth installments, but there were obviously two of them co-directing.)

I was thrilled when the first episode, aptly entitled “Pamana,” opened with a cast led by the actors who also played lead in each of the three episodes of the original: Arlene Muhlach, Janice de Belen and Herbert Bautista. I also loved that it was a homage to komiks creators & creations. Our komiks is certainly one of the most influential, if not the most influential, to the direction that our horror filmic tradition took. “Pamana” also questions the value of consanguinity. Here is a classic motif of the death of an unknown relative, and indifferent & unfeeling relatives were left with inheritance. In the end, the young boy, son of Janice’s husband to another woman––certainly not blood-related with the dead uncle & the three main characters–embodied the most powerful demon.

The second episode, “Lost Command,” is clearly a critique of militarization; here we have militarization as horror. The narrative inspiration is most likely a product  of the urban legend that aswang stories were propagated by the military in order to demonize the insurgents. Rody Vera, who wrote the script, probably took offense, and gave the soldiers a dose of their own medicine, when here they became the very aswangs that they supposedly created.

The last episode, “Unwanted,” was the least successful. An unwanted pregnancy in an end of the world scenario inevitably plays with questions of life & death, beginning & end. But here “star” took over “story,” and so we were mostly left with Vhong Navarro (his billing in the movie poster determined the length of his exposure), and the expectant Lovi Poe–the better narrative fulcrum of the two–was left unconscious in some part of the bombed building for the most part of the film.

In end, I was kind of hoping to have something that will tie up the three stories, considering that they were all directed by Roño. I waited until the credits rolled, and realized I was not shaken and rattled, unlike when I was very young. The series did not grow old with me.

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