Recently has started the Metro Manila Film Festival 2016 an annual film festival that compels cinemas across the country to limit themselves to play Filipino films for two or three weeks. Although last year also took place I did not give it a shot: I had heard that it was kind of unworhy because the movies used to be quite bad, although the raison d’etre of this celebration is to select the best of each year. All this is due, apparently, to influences, excesses, nepotisms and various plugs. Nothing I do not know about my own country, on the other hand.
But this year has been different. There is really a good selection of films and documentaries that I hope to comment about here, and the one that will start this small space dedicated to the cinema in my blg is also the first Filipino film I see in a theater. And it was worth it.
Set in the forties, Seklusyon tells the story of several aspirants to priest who are locked in a monastery far from society, in order to complete their apprenticeship and be named if they succeed in overcoming their imprisonment. Meanwhile, rumors that a girl sent from God healing people are becoming stronger. An incident will cause the girl, along with the nun who is in charge, to end up sheltering in the monastery with the aspirants. In this situation, those monks will face their fears, revealing the real nature of each one.
First, I want to say that this film has been tagged with “terror”, when it is not at all. Although it gives some moments of tension, shocking images and some fright, the film is focused on speaking more of our internal demons than of the supernatural beings that lurk to us, although this component is consistent throughout the film.
The film takes its time to show us, through images at times astonishing, the fears and demons hidden in each of the aspirants – who are excessively handsome to get credibility, for my liking – as well as the nun who accompanies the girl. With enough mastery and a very careful image and outlining, the movie gives us pieces, never defined concepts, about which is the problem of each. Until these are already manifesting.
The girl, Anghela, has supernatural (and very sinister) powers that are bound to heal people, and she does it for no apparent reason. Not only external injuries: also psychological wounds. But there is always in all of this a suspicious halo that makes the viewer wonder what is happening. In this aspect, the film is a constant thread that leaves no room for boredom. The dynamics of the film are developed so that the characters are constantly exchanged and every point in the story is one that we really want to know, even throwing, on occasion, small pieces of humor.
During the first hour we are given the promise of a different horror film, and that promise is maintained: The evil is not found outside. The characters fight against it inside of them and not all achieve it in the same way. Evil, whose driving vehicle is the form of a child, does not seek harm against them, but wishes to take their hearts. The way in which these facts are matched is remarkable, because deep down what we are shown is that evil is a human feature, without leaving aside the supernatural component that guides some acts, and makes fit everything into a definite puzzle.
One of the most interesting phrases in the film is, “Men do not walk by nature toward kindness, but toward what is easier.” This alludes to people’s difficulty in changing their essence and their acts; Its nature, the same one of all the aspirants who, through the church, seek to redeem themselves. Men tend to goodness as long as it is easy to do it. But doing things right, being right, is not always simple and easy. In fact, on many occasions it is really difficult to stay straight. And that is what evil desires. As it happens in the movie, it is not about blood and death, but about twisting souls and corrupting spirits what evil is about.