This time out, it’s the Philippine horror fest “Mag-Ingat Ka Sa…. Kulam” aka “Beware of…. Witchcraft!” It’s another of those creepy Asian ghost stories….. and you all know just how much Neko loves her ghost stories!!
The synopsis for it reads as follows: “Mag-Ingat Ka Sa… Kulam” concerns Mira (Judy Ann Santos), a recent survivor of a car accident that has partly affected her memory, and her grip on reality as well. Mira tries to regain bits and pieces of her life with her husband Paul (Dennis Trillo) and blind daughter Sophie (Sharlene San Pedro). Meanwhile, Dave (TJ Trinidad), Mira’s business associate with whom she has an illicit affair, convinces Mira to leave her husband, as what she has planned to do before the car accident. But what drives Mira to further confusion are the strange things that start to occur in her home. As a malevolent presence threatens to destroy her marriage to Paul and her relationship with Sophie, Mira is forced to confront her past and discover her true history.”
Creepy, eh? Well let’s not just stand around here, let’s “Read On” shall we?
This one starts promisingly…. a late night car accident…. a young woman miraculously survives and walks away from the wreckage to collapse dramatically in the road. Then it’s off to the hospital where Mira awakens only to find her memory gone…… A solid “stock’ beginning to what will be a pretty much “by-the-numbers” horror film. Neko’s seen a lot of these…… a WHOLE lot of these….. but the lack of originality isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It makes a film comfortable and easy to watch and sometimes that’s what you want…. Not every movie needs to make your head hurt with a complicated plot or tricky twists and turns. Luckily you won’t find anything like that here.
We spend much of our time following the main character, Mira, as she finds out just what a terrible wife and mother she has been before….. something that seems almost improbable given her personality since her crash. She desperately wants to reconnect with her little blind daughter, Sophie, and win back the love of her husband who is unaware that she apparently had been planning to leave him for the arms of her business partner with whom she had been having an affair.
Dave, the business partner, starts out as a helpful, if obsessed, ally, with a desire to continue his relationship with Mira and more than a little information about Mira’s secret family history…. but later on he just gets to be obsessed….. crazy, old fashioned, dangerously obsessed. But more on that later…..
You see, things get all tangled up as Mira fumbles with her attempts to somehow make thinks right with Sophie and husband Paul. No matter what she does, she seems only to drive them all further apart…. and then there’s the ghost….. Yep doesn’t take long for the creepy stuff to start happening in this one. Soon she’s seeing the ghost out of the corner of her eye everywhere. Only little Sophie seems to encounter the spirit too…. a strange lady with nice perfume that wants to play hide and seek and otherwise lure lil’ Sophie away from her mom. Mira knows something terrible is going to happen….
Anyway…. Dave tries to win Mira by telling her all about the “deep dark family secret” that she trusted him with but not her husband. Seems that Mira’s mom was a whacked out psycho witch woman, despised by her neighbors, who tried to pass her evil powers along to Mira, and from whom Mira ran away from to start a new life. Even more shocking…. Mira has an identical twin sister, Maria, who stayed with crazy ol’ mom, and was finally driven nuts by her. Seems Mira had her committed to a sanitarium where she could be conveniently forgotten by Mira who wanted no reminders of the shameful elements of her past. Naturally, it appears that Maria killed herself…. on the very same night that Mira had her accident….. Yep. No coincidence there….. Right.
So by now we know the ghost is Maria, out for her eternal revenge from beyond the grave, right? Tsk, tsk, tsk…… if you have watched enough of these sorts of movies, like your Favorite Catgirl Princess, you know that there is absolutely only one reason you ever put identical twins in a movie plot. I’m guessing you gentle readers have probably figured it out by now, but here comes the prerequisite warning…..
Yep, it’s a “Hayley Mills” style surprise plot twist, as we figure out that Maria, tired of living in the madhouse and looking like something out of Hansel and Gretel crossed with a bag lady, attempts to use the powers of Black Magic to switch bodies with her sister. Unfortunately, at the very critical moment of the spell, “Mira/Maria” has her car accident and “Maria/Mira” gets beaten to death by another patient at the sanitarium. So it’s been Maria suffering from amnesia all along, and it’s Mira’s ghost not trying to steal away Sophie but save her from her crazy aunt who she knows just has to come to her evil senses eventually….. Okie dokie then…. got it?
Luckily Paul still loves Mira, and finds the crucial video tape from her made on the very night of her accident telling him all he needs to know to defeat evil Maria and save himself and Sophie. Seems all he needs is some ashes…. (thank goodness “Mira/ Maria” got cremated)….and the magic voodoo dollie that Mira left for just such an eventuality. Here the film goes into CG overload for a climax of mystical voodoo goodness. Maria gets defeated….. and Mira’s ghost gets to wish her tearful family a proper goodbye before fading off to Heaven. Everything is right with the world….. or is it? Seems now that Sophie can see, thanks to a miracle operation, she still has her grandmother’s evil spell book…. “Mag-Ingat Ka Sa…. Kulam 2” anyone?
This one is a simple film….. it reminds me a lot of Indonesian horror films, as there is no explicit violence, nudity or graphic horror here. The plot is simple and workmanlike with no real surprises, but ultimately it works on that level. The cast are all excellent, and fit their rolls well, so all in all, I found the experience enjoyable. The DVD itself is well done…. letterboxed format, all region NTSC with perfect English subtitles for the Tagalog audio track. While not as inexpensive as Indonesian or malay discs, it was well worth the 19$ US pricetag. Although you’ll get no surprises, Neko gives this one 3 “Meows” out of 5 with several contented “purrs” for the excellent disc itself. I could have done worse for an evening’s movie watchin’…. (and often times have… Hehehehe!!)
Naturally, there’s a Trailer for it…. and here it is!