After five days of horror movie marathon from world cinema, I never thought that I’d come across a hidden gem from our very own. Director Richard Somes’ YANGGAW (2008), is a cinematic gem and a modern day achievement amidst the descending taste of our local horror genre.
Junior (Ronnie Lazaro) is a patriarch of a family living in a small farming community in some far-flung province. One day his daughter comes home with a mysterious sickness. She spends all day weak and bedridden, but is found every morning with dirt caked feet and bloodied hands. Junior consults with the local healer and learns that his daughter has been infected by a malevolent spirit, and that she is slowly turning into an aswang. With the local authorities getting closer to the truth, Junior seeks to save his daughter from this curse, or failing that, to protect her at all costs.
This the rare horror film that realizes that horror works much better when there’s a personal dimension to it, when there are emotions to hold on to and characters to care about. These characters are fantastically well written, particularly Junior, whose choices are all deeply flawed, yet painfully understandable.
I never thought that such horror could still make me cry like a child.
Yanggaw is exactly the kind of local movie should be making. Our horror films nowadays owe more to The Ring than to anything from our rich history of cinema, and the disparity in cultural norms has created empty films that tend to coast on style. Yanggaw is what our horror ought to be, launching itself from our cinematic heritage and taking things further, producing a film that has as much heart as it has scares.
Watch it, watch it!
5 Stars out of 5!