With Winter loosening it’s icy grip around my parts, it’s time for your Favorite Catgirl to start thinking Spring again and what better way than with a movie for this time out’s review from the sunny Philippines? And… as long as we’re doing that, it might as well have some scary ghost action for Neko to enjoy as well… right? Sounds like a winning idea to me!
Our synopsis? How about this: “Six contestants enter a Pinoy horror-reality show to survive 5 days of haunting inside the famous White House in Baguio City. A million pesos is at stake but as the first night draws to a close and each one is soon found dead, everyone realizes with dread that their lives are also on the line. It is up to famous spirit medium Jet (Gabby Concepcion) to find out what exactly is going on and who is the real enemy among the many ghosts that haunt the place, including a powerful “Black Lady” who has stolen away the soul of Jet’s only daughter. A chance of a lifetime with no lifelines… Ultimately, who will survive in the end?”
While I’m not a fan of some of the bloody stuff that passes as horror these days, I usually like my ghost stories to be as scary and creepy as possible. I’ve seen plenty too over the years…. and regular readers know I’m always up for a new one when I can hunt them down. Carolyn can take them or leave them… although I’m slowly winning her over to my side movie-wise. Pinoy horror films tend to be somewhat restrained as Asian horror films go, but I’ve always liked them, so let’s find out how this one goes, shall we?
Pssstttt!! For the truly slow witted among you… that’s your cue to “Read On”….. Hehehehe!!
As you can see from the Trailer… we’re not talking a novel story approach here. “White House” pretty much sticks to a lot of basic plot elements this lil’ Catgirl has seen before. Still… after the disappointment of Korea’s “Deserted House”, I wasn’t too upset by having a simple story to just sit back and enjoy. Our hero, Jet (played by Gabby Concepcion) is that stereotypical spiritualist who always seems to inhabit films of this type. You know…. “He sees ghosts”…. that sort of thing. You just know he’s our hero…. he’s macho and sensitive… and he’s got a nice little family in wife Issa (played by Angel Jacob) and sweet, adorable little daughter Shen (played by Laiza Comia) that ought to mean he’s certainly got it all. Right?
Well…. apparently even spiritualists gotta pay the bills and put food on the table. That’s where he gets into trouble. After a TV appearance in which he passes along his experiences with the creepy denizens of “the other side”, he’s approached by TV producer Coreen (played by Maricar Reyes) to be the “expert” for a new Reality show she’s putting together where 5 contestants are going to be locked away in a haunted house to see which of them will last long enough to win the amazing prize of one million pesos!! Sounds dumb, but harmless…. right?
Hehehehe… of course… if it were harmless, we wouldn’t have much of a movie now would we? Nawwww. So our hero Jet decides to go check out the place selected for the show… a notorious house in Baguio where tragic events have resulted in the mysterious deaths of numerous residents since the murder/ suicide of a heartless woman and her children years ago. Ok… now that sounds good. Jet packs up to go, but does the one thing that left your Favorite Catgirl smacking herself on the forehead in frustration. Yep… he takes his wife and daughter along on the Scooby-Doo trip like it was going to be a fun family outing. Say what? Yes…yes… I know. Personally… if I was able to see ghosts… I wouldn’t be bringing anyone I loved anywhere near a haunted house… but he does. Wait a minute… it’ll be alright. He just tells them to wait in the car while he takes a look around. Sure. That will work… right? Ummmm? Nope. Naturally once dad is inside, it isn’t long before Shen just has to use the bathroom. D’ohhhh!!! Couldn’t she go pee in the bushes? Apparently not. After a particularly close call with the angry spirit of the house, Jet is all ready to beat a hasty retreat, completely ignorant of that fatal bathroom trip that now has Shen marked by the evil spirit for some… how shall we say…. special attention.
He tells Coreen that she ought to drop the whole idea of her show… that it’s just too dangerous to put people there where the evil he encountered would surely kill them all. Then he drops out of participating further. Does Coreen listen to her “expert”? Nope. She goes forward, selecting her participants with an eye towards boosting ratings, and Jet returns home where poor lil’ Shen is having bad dreams… doing the floating around the room thing… and generally going through all the prerequisite possession thingees before having her soul stolen away by the evil “Black Lady” (played by Iza Calzado) that haunts the house. So… if he wants to save his daughter he’s got to go back to Baguio and save her spirit… along with the greedy idiots in the TV show.
Naturally, he shows up just in time for the ill fated show to start, and convinces Coreen to let him stay, locked in with the contestants while he searches for Shen’s spirit and tries to find out the truth behind the evil “Dark Lady” before she kills them all. Pretty predictable stuff from this point forward, and our motley group of contestants are really no help to Jet, nor do they really contribute to the story beyond the body count. We get our token skeptic, the pretty boy male model, the slutty party girl, the heartrendingly pitiful brother and sister from the Provinces, and the directionless girl just dumped by her boyfriend in need of a “life change”. They are all about as memorable as a group of crash test dummies as you’d expect, and none really grab your attention or sympathy as they blunder through the last part of the film before dying in various grisly fashions to fill out time. So….. Does Jet manage to defeat the “Black Lady” and save his little girl before this whole thing winds down to those End Credits? Hmmmmm? What do you think?
This is perhaps the worst part of “White House”….. it’s just a bit too predictable. Not to say it isn’t well made as a film… far from that, in fact as Philippine movies go, it actually looks very good. I’m just wishing it had been… well… just a bit more daring or surprising in it’s execution. As ghost stories go, it’s alright… but it’s merely a quick little snack of a film that doesn’t leave you all full and satisfied and craving for more.
The DVD? As always, it’s a nice one… coming with a good “Making of” feature, all subtitled in English and some Trailers for other films…. (Mostly romantic dramas or comedies I’m afraid…) All packaged together in a letter-boxed region free NTSC format for about 15-20$ US. Probably not a buy for most of you, nor a film you are likely to encounter unless you go looking for it, I give “White House” a middle of the road 3 “Meows” out of 5. It’s a DVD for the true Asian film completist rather than the casual horror movie fan. Ah well…. at least I’ve a couple of Korean DVD’s that look more promising in the queue for next time out….
Trailer you ask? Yep. Neko’s got that for ya, just in case you still aren’t sure you wanna watch it yourself….