Now that we’re home again, it’s time for a quick swing through the sunny Philippines for a look at 2013’s ghost story “Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay”. Pagpag? Now that’s a funny sounding Tagalog word… Helpful Wikipedia tells me that it refers to a local Philippine folklore practice that one should never go home directly after visiting a wake since it risks bringing evil spirits to one’s home. One should first shake off whatever curse there may be to avoid being followed by the soul of the dead. Seems I’ve heard of similar superstitions and notions from right here in the good ol’ US of A. However… as one might expect, this wee Catgirl’s always ready for some creepy ghost story goodness, so was there any chance I’d miss this one? 😉
The quick synopsis goes as follows: “A spirit of a recent dead man hunts down nine persons and tries to kill them after the victims ignored local superstitions during his wake, one of them being that no one should go home directly after visiting a wake so that the spirit of the dead will not follow. This disrespect leads to a haunting terror and death for those who transgress against the old ways.”
Yep. Ghostly curses and vengeance from beyond the grave. Neko is soooo there. So what the heck are we waiting for o’ Gentle Visitors? By all means, “Read On” for all the details! 🙂
This one is a fairly simple one plot wise… It’s the old “small group of young adults run afoul of the supernatural with deadly results” cliche. We’ve all seen it before, so at least it’ll be an easy one for non-Filipino audiences to follow. Like my poor subtitle-shy sweetie… bless her heart. 😉
There’s a couple of twists thrown in to spice things up involving Satanic contracts and the resurrection of the dead, but those side-plots don’t really overly complicate things tooo darn much. Remember my movie mantra… “Sometimes Simple is better…”. 😉
So this one primarily concerns our hunky hero Cedric (played by Daniel Padilla) and his friends; Hannah (played by Michelle Vito), Ashley (played by Miles Ocampo), Justin (played by CJ Navato) and Rico (played by Dominic Roque). They are a pretty tight lil’ group who do just about everything together including rolling around Manila together doing all the silly stuff teenagers do. Like carnivals and hanging out… It’s during one of these pastimes that Cedric gets into an argument with Hannah… who’s under the impression that they are boyfriend and girlfriend… which ends in Cedric revealing that he doesn’t really have serious feelings for Hannah and doesn’t really want any kind of relationship beyond just having some fun. She doesn’t take that well and basically goes all “drama queen” on him for “leading her on”. How tiring…. 😦
Eventually this leads to a fight in the car that causes them to run off the road right near the home of Lucy (played by Shaina Magdayao) who is holding the funeral wake for her husband Roman (played by Paulo Avelino). Since this is waaaay out in the boondocks, they end up attending the funeral while they wait for help to get the car going. The funeral service is being attended by pretty funeral manager Leni (played by Kathryn Bernardo) whom Cedric has run into before. Literally. It seems he’s destined to keep doing that… and even though Leni keeps trying to avoid him, they just keep meeting up again and again. You just know they are going to end up a couple… even if they both seem to really dislike each other… it’s just that sort of movie. 😉
So anyways… it’s at this wake that everybody makes the stupid mistake of not honoring all the little superstitions and traditions designed to keep the restless spirits of the deceased from attaching themselves to the living and wreaking havoc. The rest of our film pretty much consists of the nasty ways that the dead can mess you up if you aren’t respectful and observant. Oh, that and the blossoming romance that develops between irresponsible Cedric and shy introverted Leni of course.
Add in a little sub-plot in which Lucy is trying to fulfill a Satanic deal to return her beloved husband from beyond the grave by collecting 9 souls to trade for Roman’s and you’ve just about got everything you need for a fairly straightforward horror movie. One or two odd plot twists in which some characters are discovered to be other than they truly appear, added just for spice… Yep… it’s all here.
Philippine films usually have a really weird mix of straight up Catholic religious ideas coupled with old Tagalog folklore traditions, and “Pagpag” uses all of that to fairly nice effect. While in a lot of ways, the result resembles Indonesian horror films, it’s just different enough to have it’s own unique flavor. That scores well with me for a bit of change of pace from my usual horror movie fare.
Without spilling the ending, let’s just say it’s fair to guess that a large percentage of our cast gets killed in some nasty ways… the evil Lucy and Roman discover the error of trying to deal with the Devil… and by the end, Cedric and Leni fall in love. Pretty much by the books and as expected. The characters are adequately if not inspiringly played… although there are no standout performances here overall.
So… all in all… “Pagpag” isn’t the most original film to come out of the Philippines, and certainly makes no real effort to distinguish itself from any other of the Tagalog horror films I’ve seen, but it does do it’s job reasonably well. Enough to garner a respectable 3 “Meows” out of 5 from this wee Catgirl for being a simple and unpretentious effort worth an evening’s viewing here at “La Casa de Neko”. It’s available on a Region free widescreen NTSC formatted DVD and can be obtained for right around 15-20$ US in the usual places. If, like a certain crazy Cat lady, you like seeing odd lil’ Asian horror films, that is… 😉
Trailer? Hahaha!! Would I ever forget one? 😉