After 'Ang Babaeng Allergic sa Wifi' and 'Born Beautiful', Cignal Entertainment along with Fox Original Productions team up to give us 'Maledicto', a movie about how exorcism is still relevant in today's day and age in the Philippines. Starring Tom Rodriguez as Doctor/Father Xavi, a psychologist that became a priest after failing to save her own sister from her own evils, vowing to dispel demonic possessions as nothing more than an overactive imagination assisted by illegal chemicals. Jasmine Curtis Smith is Sister Barbie and Miles Ocampo plays Agnes, both struggle to understand what is happening when Agnes starts to show aggression and other behavioral changes a girl her age normally goes through, but in her case it becomes a cause of concern because she's the school's IT girl: excellent grades, varsity player, no boyfriend, strict parents and all the other stereotype you can come up with for someone who of all people should show signs of possession. Other notable casts include Eric Quizon, Franco Laurel, Inah de Belen and Martin Escudero.
If there's one thing I will commend right off the bat for this movie is that it's well-acted. The possession scenes alone are laudable especially when the line is very thin to being labelled as cringeworthy. Tom here is a revelation, because we're used to seeing him as a romantic leading man who uses his puppy face when showing remorse. Although it is of note that he is more relaxed acting when he delivers his line in english than in tagalog. As for Jasmine, the movie failed to showcase what she's capable of mostly because of how poorly written her character is, but hopefully a sequel (if box office receipts allow for it) will fix that.
Now for the things to improve on: poor transitioning, some scenes should've been prolonged to let the effect sink in for the viewers, others should've been shortened; poor sound editing, especially when Fr. Xavi is thinking out loud, then proceeds to say something, you can barely separate the two; lastly, the lost opportunity to tell the story in a different way instead of the cliche way of how local horror movies are done. The potential was there to become something different but showing it in the way the Filipino audience would appreciate it is a hard balance to achieve and while it does come off as trying hard to fit in, it's a good start to transition the audience from worn-out movie formulas to more dynamic storytelling in the future.
Sure the movie is flawed and maybe only a few have seen it since the Avengers Endgame fever is still in full swing, but it seems fitting that a horror movie like Maledicto is brave enough to go against the now second highest-grossing movie of all time, and is also brave enough to hold the hands of the Filipino audience to try something new, to let them know they deserve more and better in terms of entertainment value and options. Surrender to the exorcism from watching local movies because it stars a certain actor/actress but start watching because of the story itself. Who among the cast did you know when Game of Thrones started? Don't be afraid, try something different and see your world open up a little more.
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