MMFF in review, Part 3: ‘Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2’ and ‘Seklusyon’

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THIS year’s Metro Manila Film Festival ushered in a new era into the annual yuletide event, with its offering of a fresh lineup of quality films, mostly produced by independent outfits.

Headlined by both veteran and neophyte actors and directors, this year’s roster offers a diversity of topics: from social issues, religious horror and even technosexual dating. Here, the Varsitarian rounds up its take on the Magic 8:

Eugene Domingo returns as herself in "Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2," which satirizes the makings of a mainstream film. Screengrab from YouTube.
Eugene Domingo returns as herself in “Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2,” which satirizes the makings of a mainstream film. Screengrab from YouTube.

“Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough”

MARLON RIVERA’S “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #ForeverIsNotEnough” is yet another commentary to high-budget movies compared to independent films, a raging issue in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.

While the first film tackles the production of an independent film, the sequel satirizes the goings-on behind mainstream movies.

The sequel takes place years after the events of the first. Rainier (Kean Cipriano) is now a successful director who reunites with Eugene Domingo for the latter’s comeback film.

Domingo threatens Rainier’s latest project with her over-the-top suggestions that Rainier feels will sacrifice the essence of his film.

Domingo, who portrays herself again, steals the spotlight from the film’s other characters as though the weight of the entire film rests on her shoulders. This becomes problematic as it does not allow the other characters to show their potential and grow.

But Domingo’s exaggerated acting compliments the firm and light attitude of Cipriano’s role. The pairing evokes the same accented connection established in the first film.

Scriptwriter Chris Martinez does not disappoint in the way humor and irony are used to satirize commercially-driven films.

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MMFF in review, Part 1: 'Sunday Beauty Queen,' 'Kabisera,' and 'Oro'

“Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2” offers nothing new but is an apt addition in this year’s “revamped” festival lineup. It challenges viewers to embrace diversity in movie genres and support local independent films more.

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Newcomers Phoebe Walker and Rhed Bustamante portray antagonists Sister Cecilia and Anghela, respectively, in Erik Matti’s religious horror, “Seklusyon.” Screengrab from YouTube.

“Seklusyon”

THE TERROR in Erik Matti’s “Seklusiyon” is not manifested in the jump-scare scenes employed in almost every horror film. Instead, it lies in the film’s message that cuts across the film’s post-World War II setting and into modern times.

“Seklusyon” follows the story of four deacons sent to a secluded house to complete their training to priesthood. At first, they are haunted with the manifestations of their personal demons but things take on a more sinister turn with the arrival of Anghela (Rhed Bustamante), a child with supposed healing powers, and her sidekick nun, Cecilia (Phoebe Walker).

In one scene, which stands as a synecdoche for the film, Anghela expresses her desire to create a future where people are unable to discern good from evil.

As a social commentary, “Seklusyon” exposes how people have become amoral, where moral standards exist for personal benefit. This is most evident in scenes where Anghela offers liberation to the deacons from their personal demons in exchange for their loyalty.

A parallel narrative follows a priest (Neil Ryan Sese) trying to debunk Anghela’s saintly façade.

Amid interspersed scenes, “Seklusyon” delivers a cohesive story that exposes truths about blind faith and false messiahs.

Matti employs impeccable control over the technicalities, proving his mastery of the craft. The overall sepia tone of the film gives it an eerie feel. The scenes which took place in the retreat house where framed in a way that evoked claustrophobia.

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MMFF in review, Part 2: 'Die Beautiful,' 'Saving Sally,' and 'Vince & Kath & James'

The use of floating text proved distracting and limited the viewers’ freedom to formulate their own conclusions on the matter.

Despite some flaws in its storytelling, “Seklusyon” veers from the tropes of commercial-driven horror films and succeeds to deliver a story that shakes the beliefs of its audiences.

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