"The Healing," the suspense/horror film by Star Cinema featuring the Philippine "Star For All Seasons" Vilma Santos and one of this generation's hottest young stars Kim Chiu, has started rolling out in theaters this week.
A masterpiece of Chito S. Roño, who also directed the blockbuster films "Feng Shui" (2004) and "Sukob" (2006), "The Healing" tackles a Filipino belief in "faith healing," a so-called spiritual process of healing the diseases and disability of a person. Rituals and practices are done to stimulate the divine presence and power to solicit divine intervention in initiating spiritual and literal healing.
"The Healing" also marks Vilma's 50th anniversary in showbiz. Other cast include Robert Arevalo, Martin del Rosario, Janice de Belen, Pokwang, Mark Gil, Carmi Martin, Joel Torre, Daria Ramirez, Allan Paule, Cris Villanueva, Abi Bautista, Ces Quesada, Ynez Veneracion, Simon Ibarra, Chinggoy Alonzo, Ina Feleo, Ana Capri, Mercedes Cabral, and Jhong Hilario.
The film, I should say, is one of the best Pinoy horror films I've seen for years. The cinematic execution of the scenes and the matching special effects are the "main ingredients" of a creepy flick. Truly, "The Healing" surpassed the expectations of many, as it traversed the typical Asian-inspired horror genre into an all-new level, mixed with a Western belief and patterned into a diversified, chaotic rituals some Christians believed in.
The color and lighting in "The Healing" are incredibly relevant into producing a serious "trauma effect." In the first scenes, shot in the house of Manang Elsa (Daria Ramirez), the faith healer, the projection of the screen is very vivid. The important events in the film were given a detailed and specified approach -- a balanced mixing of colors, impressive camera angles, high quality filters, and flawless (although not so perfect) special effects -- in short, excellent cinematography. One thing I just didn't like was there were some scenes that Vilma's face were turned blurry, which I don't know if it's with the editing or intentionally done.
The color coding of clothes of the film's characters is something that puzzled me all throughout. Maybe it's something done to add more "catch" to the film. But I really thought their town was somewhat following a ritual because almost everyone wear the same color of clothes (or at least shades of its primary color) for each day. Anyway, it didn't bring any connection to the plot at all.
Warning: The next parts of this review contain some spoilers. Do not proceed if you hate spoilers.
MTRCB's Cinema Evaluation Board has given "The Healing" a Grade A. And for the first time in Philippine cinema, the film was given two ratings -- R13 and R18 (Director's Cut). I was able to watch the R13 version and got the freak out of me especially on gory scenes -- the hostage taking, the bloodbath, the neck stretching -- every killing scenes were creepy! So what more to expect in the R18 version? Maybe the real shot like when possessed, doomed Greta (Ynez Veneracion) decapitated her husband using a very large bolo.
The monstrous and demonic "eye trembling" effect was a pretty fresh but good idea to bring gore factors to the characters and the viewers. The plot thickens more as death comes to those who involved in the "healing."
All the actors did well. I just really have to laud Pokwang's comedic approaches and punch-lines, Janice de Belen's motherly nature, Kim Chiu's terrific improvement in acting, and Ms. Vilma's excellent portrayal of her role.
Among the scenes that stood out for me were:
- The "Taguan" scene when Janice's daughter was possessed and killed the praying monks as she was counting down.
- The scenes of Vilma and Kim's doppelganger.
- The possessed Pokwang's scene when she was throwing the other tenants in the apartment.
- When Joel Torre shot Jhong Hilario in the prison, which marked the end of the curse.
Overall, "The Healing" is a very good film to watch. But those faint-hearted must think a couple of times doing so, for this wouldn't fit for you and might cause sleepless nights and unprecedented nausea.
Reyn's Room rating: 9.5/10