REVIEW – Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles

In fairness
Review by Vives Anunciacion
Published Inquirer Libre October 23, 2012

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles
Directed by Erik Matti

You’ve probably seen it. Horror movies tend to be critic-proof since they’re barkada-bait. In that sense my two cents on Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles would only add to the list of its acclaim. With a little trepidation.

The story is simple enough. A cocky, arrogant Makoy (Dingdong Dantes, who co-produced the movie) travels to the remote village of Pulupandan to win back his pregnant college girlfriend Sonia (Lovie Poe), but not without some struggle. Sonia’s mother Fely (Janice de Belen) is naturally against their reunion, while the henpecked father, Nestor (Joey Marquez) can only provide passive support.

While buying a piglet for roasting on Sonia’s birthday the next day, Makoy’s troubles double when he provokes the ire of a family of locals who turn out to be an entire clan of aswangs (vampires). Now why wouldn’t they teach this conceited Manileño and his pregnant girlfriend a lesson or two? And what does Bart (Ramon Bautista) have to do with everything?

I’m bound to give a biased review because I personally know many of those responsible in the making of this film. But I will try to be fair.

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles is a fun movie, overall. It exists in the realm of fantasy and horror and illogicality – so all notions of rational behavior and situation should be thrown out the door before you come in the theater. I mean, you know, Boy Bawang sumpit? Think of it as a ride through a horror fun-house – some points may be a little thrilling, some parts outright silly and laughable. The story is clichéd, but for kids who didn’t hear the Lola Basyang stories about boiling bottles of lana (coconut oil), the black bird (tiktik) inside the leader aswang – the movie is a short reintroduction to Pinoy Aswang mythology.

Inspired by the technique used in filming Zach Snyder’s 300, Tiktik is the first Pinoy film shot entirely in green screen (what we in the industry call chroma.) Sure. Put that in the record books.

The film suffers from inconsistency. Exterior shots look better than the interior shots (whoever said the lighting is great should look again), the CG environment is better in the morning than the evening shots, and the creature animation (rigging, gravity, texture and compositing) are not to Hollywood par (good design though.) Not yet. I know for a fact that the sound was mixed for 5.1 Surround, but it sounded front-center most, if not all, the time.  The opening title animation is good. Gives the impression that the film was made by a foreign production. But how many foreign films have I dismissed for not having substance beyond their expensive special effects? The standard must be the same.

Dantes does a good persona of the cocky college kid, but Joey Marquez does a better job of fleshing out Nestor as a passive person who eventually grows the proverbial spine. I’d say his character was written well, but Nestor loses the spine again near the end. And the other characters? Like I said, the film is inconsistent.

Despite its many minor flaws, the film has a consistent flavor – a fun ride – and that is the assurance that it was handled properly by a seasoned director who knows what he’s doing. Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles may not be a giant leap or a paradigm shift in Philippine cinema, but it is one exciting step in the right direction.

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