Oooohhh!! Those naughty, evil, flesh eating Philippine monsters, the Aswang, are back… and so is pretty Cristine Reyes…. but this time there’s no romance or comedy on hand in the latest Philippine Horror DVD to find it’s way to your Favorite Catgirl’s mailbox. This time out it’s full-on horror in the latest Philippine DVD, “Patient X”.
The synopsis goes sorta like this: “Dr. Lukas Esguerra comes home to his rural hometown and finds that one of the suspects in the brutal murder of his brother and his family was caught by the police and was able to sustain multiple gunshot wounds. But then this suspect is still alive, and apparently cannot die. The police locked up this suspect in the basement section of a hospital, because of the suspect’s involvement in the recent massacre that resulted to the deaths of the family of the police chief. On the evening of Dr. Esguerra’s visit, the sinister and mysterious companions of the suspect has come knocking on the hospital doors and is bent on freeing their companion locked up inside, even if it kills everybody on the way.”
Sounds like this particular one certainly isn’t going to be a sweet romantic comedy…. even though Cristine Reyes is again on hand doing her best to be as cute and adorable a cannibal monster girl as she possibly can. But scary can be good too, and so I’m really lookin’ forward to seeing if the Aswang are as creepy and horrible as all the folklore suggests they are. Well…. only one way to find out…. and that’s to get in there, curl up on the couch with the wine coolers and popcorn and give it a watch, right?
But don’t worry… Your Favorite Catgirl will let you in on all the details… all you have to do Gentle Visitor, is “Read On!!”
Our story starts with a flashback dream sequence….. seems our hero Dr. Lukas (played by Richard Gutierrez) was traumatized as a child by the unexplained horrible massacre of his whole family at the hands of a group of Aswang…. one of whom was his family’s trusted maid and Lucas’s friend, Guada (played by Cristine Reyes)…. or so he thought. Before he can even wonder why the nightmares of that time have returned to haunt him he gets a visit from a policeman from his old home town. Seems… after 20 years… the “killers” of his family have struck again, this time killing and devouring the family of an old childhood friend, now the chief of police. Astoundingly, he is told one of the killers has been captured…. Guada, his family’s maid, still looking as impossibly young and pretty as she did 20 years before. Refusing to answer police questions, she has said she will talk only to Lucas…. and so he is drawn back into the most terrible time of his life… and another brush with the supernatural.
Seems our vengeful police chief Marcus (played by Elvis Gutierrez) has his own reasons for wanting his old friend Lukas to come back home…. You see, he’s been trying to kill Guada since her capture…. over and over and over….. by shooting her, by electrocuting her, even by dousing her in kerosene and barbecuing her…. all to absolutely no effect. Seems the Aswang are immortal and seemingly able to heal any wound…. but there must be some way to kill them, and he’s hoping Lukas can learn that secret from Guada before her husband and the other members of her evil clan come to free her from captivity.
Basically… once Lukas arrives at the rural hospital where Guada is being held in solitary confinement, our story really gets going. It isn’t long before Guada’s husband and the other Aswang trap the police and hospital staff inside the nearly deserted hospital beginning a deadly siege as they try to break Guada out and devour all the humans inside. Despite his horror and revulsion, Lukas come to feel sorry for the winsome Guada, who feels true remorse for the deaths of Lukas’ family all those years ago and only wants to return to the mountains and somehow find the strength to fight her hellish need to feed on humans to survive. Cristine Reyes is getting really good at playing an Aswang…. and it isn’t long before this lil’ Catgirl found herself hoping this would somehow work out for her, although the grim circumstances of the story tell you it probably won’t.
By now, you’ve probably figured out the story here isn’t all that deep or groundbreaking. Most of the stock characters you’d expect in a survival horror are here…. The vengeance driven “Captain Ahab” figure in our police chief Marcus, his loyal (and doomed) deputy, the Head doctor and his loyal nurse, the obligatory sick little girl and her mom trapped with them in the hospital, and enough nameless police and hospital staff to make for a viable body-count once the unstoppable monsters inevitably break in. Is this a bad thing? No…. not really, but I had hoped for a more original approach to this classic old gem of a plot by Philippine director Yam Laranas after his last horror film, 2004’s “Sigaw”. Unfortunately, “Patient X” isn’t in the same league as that one, and I can’t see it inspiring a big budget Hollywood remake like his last film. Not a fatal flaw here, but a disappointment none the less.
Hmmmm? Well how about the monsters themselves? In “Patient X” we get a version of the Aswang quite a bit different from the ones I saw in “Darling Aswang”. Gone is the shape-shifting and flying found in that film, replaced here by a very humanoid creature with super strength, invulnerability, and regenerative powers that comes across as some sort of werewolf crossed with a ghoul. The makeup for them was less than inspired…. although Cristine’s look as the slowly healing, burned wretch painfully being consumed by her overwhelmingly torturous need to feed was certainly effective. Her role was perhaps the best thing in the entire film… at least for me.
Our ending….. Well, it’s not a happy one, that much I can tell you. Eventually Lukas does learn the one weakness of the Aswang from Guada…. you need to behead them you see…. and it’s monster battling fun from that point on. At least the story resists the idea of any sort of “doomed love match” between Lukas and Guada, something which would have rung somewhat wrong overall. It’s a satisfying ending…. but exactly how it turns out this lil’ Catgirl’s not going to spoil for you.
The Philippine DVD is excellent as always, being done wide screen, NTSC All Region format with almost perfect separate English subtitles. There a Trailer on board, and a small “Making of” feature (sadly un-subbed) and is well worth the 15-20$ US you’ll find it priced at most places. Neko can give it a respectable 3 “Meows” out of 5 with a particularly nice purr for Cristine Reyes work here…. as probably the cutest, most sympathetic, cannibalistic corpse-eating girl in all of the Philippines. “Patient X” lacks the gore and effects to make it a breakout worldwide hit, but it’s still not a bad lil’ thriller for an evening’s movie watchin’ fun.
You say you want a Trailer? Well here ya go!