Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles makes me hopeful for Philippine cinema. The story's good and the sequences are amazing, but what sets this film apart is the special effects. As you may know, everything in this movie is shot on green screen, resulting in gorgeous shots that took my breath away. Trust me, everything was beautiful.
The premise is simple enough: a city boy (Dingdong Dantes) visits his pregnant ex-amour (Lovi Poe) in the province. His arrogance sets off a family of tiktiks (supernatural creatures that devour fetuses) to go after him and his Lovi's family, including her unborn child.
It is Dingdong's performance as Makoy that stole the show. I started noticing his acting chops last year in Joyce Bernal's Segunda Mano, and his portrayal of Makoy in Tiktik was equal parts annoying, funny, pitiful, and amazing. He had a wide range of emotions, and his fight scenes with the buntot ng pagi (tail of stingray used to fight aswangs) was brilliant. Janice de Belen and Joey Marquez also gave unforgettable performances as Lovi's parents. Janice was ingratiating and while Joey was a pushover, he became a fighter. He was believable in both roles. Ramon Bautista was funny, but when Dingdong manages to be funnier, you know there's more to him than his sexy body.
And my favorite Lovi scene? The one where she grabs a machine gun while about to give birth and shoots at a tiktik. Very grindhouse.
My only concern is the timing. I'm talking about those moments when protagonists are given ample chance to defeat the villain, only to ruin it by talking too much or hesitating. In Tiktik, it's curious how the characters are standing in a salt bed and with buckets of the stuff and not use it to ward off the monster when it has them cornered. But I guess it's symptomatic of all action movies to add drama (and frustration) to the story.
I enjoyed Tiktik. The CGI was brilliant, and it's because Peter Collias, the guy who designed Moulin Rouge and The Matrix, was in charge of constructing the house and several environments. But the thing is, the lush mise-en-scène doesn't overpower the actors and the story. Even if the effects were of the Shake, Rattle, and Roll variety, the film could still pull crowds.
Future Filipino movies have pretty big shoes to fill.
Watch the trailer below: