Whooo-hoo!! Finally an afternoon off, and time for a way overdue Review. This time it’s off to the Philippines for a look at the 2012 Star Cinema release by director Chito S. Roño, “The Healing”. I’ve had this one lurking around in my “to watch” pile for a year or so… but for one reason or another, it just never seemed to make its way into the ol’ DVD player. Well… that was awfully lazy of me, but thankfully I’ve remedied that lil’ oversight. 😉
The synopsis goes like this : “Seth witnesses a miracle when her paralyzed father is healed by Manang Elsa, a rural faith healer in the Provinces. Her neighbors, many of whom suffer from various maladies, plead with her to bring them to Elsa for the same treatment that cured her father. Jed, Seth’s perturbed son, asks his mother for help for his half-sister Cookie, her ex-husband’s daughter from his new marriage, and desperately pleads to join them as well. Reluctantly, Seth agrees, and all goes well at first, but soon after strange things begin to happen… leading to horror and death for all those involved. Feeling ultimately responsible for it all, Seth desperately seeks a way to end the curse before more tragedy can occur. But will she act quickly enough to stop the curse before it claims yet another life?”
Hmmm?? From the Trailer, this one looked to be a fusion of Catholic Faith Healing traditions with local Philippine witchcraft and ghost folklore. Don’t know exactly why I’ve waited so long to give it a watch, as it seems right up a certain crazy Catgirl’s alley. But hey… I’ve fixed that now, so if you wonder if it might also be a movie you need to hunt down, let’s get right to it and find out if it’s worth a look-see for any of you Gentle Visitors. 🙂
Faith Healing. Not being much of a religious woman myself, I’ve never really been into any of that sort of thing. Always sounded a bit sketchy to this wee lady… but in some places in the world they set real stock by such things. Naturally that means the whole topic is perfect fodder for a good exploitative horror story. Yay! 😉
So… you’d think Faith Healing should be a good thing, right? Making blind people see… fixing lil’ crippled Jimmy’s legs… getting rid of that nasty gross warty thing on sweet lil’ Sally’s cheek that makes babies cry and strong men vomit when they see it. Yeah… all that sort of stuff. I mean, how can something as definitely good… like healing people… end up causing all sorts of nasty horrible things to start going sooo sooo badly? Well, apparently… as with all things religiously themed… there are certain rules to be followed, and things you have to avoid unless you want problems to pop up and spoil it all. “The Healing” is about just such a no-no and the bad stuff that follows from making even the teeniest tiniest mistake.
Apparently the biggest sort of no-no is using your Holy gift to bring back the dead, something that poor Manang Elsa (played by Daria Ramirez) does by accident right before Seth (played by Vilma Santos) brings all her friends and Cookie (played by Kim Chiu) to get themselves healed. (Big hint here… if you are a certified wonder-working Faith Healer, don’t do it while you are all tired and worn out, otherwise you won’t notice that the poor heart attack guy you are healing is already dead before you work the “miracles thing”. Neko’s just sayin… 😉 ) Anyways, after she revives that guy, he’s not really that guy anymore. Nope. Seems there are all sorts of nasty demonic things lurking around just waiting for the chance to grab a body. Once they do, the Healer is cursed and the demon possessed guy will keep himself alive by sending out “doppelgänger” of all the folk you heal after him one by one to kill them and everybody who gets in their way, just so he can suck up their life-force to sustain his Undead existence. Awwww crap… Couldn’t be something easier to deal with like all the folk just getting a really nasty rash or somethin’…
Well… a nasty rash wouldn’t make for much of a horror movie, but homicidal doppelgängers certainly do! It doesn’t take long for people to start getting killed by these horrible duplicates who then go on crazy homicidal killing sprees before being killed themselves and releasing all that life energy to keep Dario (played by Jhong Hilario), the guy who died from the heart attack, alive. For some reason unknown to her, Seth always gets premonitions of these doppelgängers right before they go in search of their victims. Mind you… it takes Seth quite some time to work all this out, and by the time she does, it’s too late. Manang Elsa is already dead, butchered by the possessed Dario and burned to ashes in her house back in the Province. The cops catch Dario and stick him in jail, but the Undead thing possessing him could care less… it can still work it’s evil from the jail cell where he’s being held and the cops don’t buy the whole “demon possession” angle for an instant. Worse… all her friends and neighbors start falling victim to the curse one by one as each gets replaced by their duplicate who then immediately goes on a violent murderous rampage. Plenty of chopping, stabbing, shooting, and other gory action ensues.
So what’s the solution to all this misery? Well, Manang Elsa’s brother Melchor (played by Joel Torre) survived the deady fire that killed his sister and wife, and once she tracks him down, he tells Seth that the evil cycle can indeed be broken if Dario… the Undead thing who should not be… is killed. Ok, seems easy enough. But can Seth bring herself to commit murder? Even to save those she loves? Will anybody survive? Guess you’ll have to watch it yourself to find out. 😉
All in all, this one turned out to be a fairly nice little horror story. Not difficult to follow, with some wacky folklore mashing together some Christian themes with a lot of local traditional stuff in a way that worked for the most part. Much of the story involves a bit of domestic tension between Seth and her ex-husband Val (played by Mark Gil) and his wife Bles (played by Carmi Martin) regarding her interference in his new marriage and his daughter, but doesn’t get in the way of the scares. In fact, I’m not certain why that particular plot element even existed, given that the story would have worked fine without it.
The effects are done with some well utilized CGI, which lets our doppelgängers do some crazy boogedy buggy eyed stuff to creep you out while they are stalking their victims. It’s simple, yet freaky and works pretty darn well overall. The murders? Well, Philippine films don’t do the ultra bloody stuff that Thai horror loves to slather on, but the suggestion is certainly there and as usual, less is more when it’s properly done.
With that, I’d give “The Healing” a respectable 3 “Meows” out of 5 for being a simple workable horror movie that certainly entertained this crazy Catgirl and her sweetie on a cold winter’s evening of movie watchin’. I’ve seen better but, by goodness, I’ve also seen far, far worse. The DVD? I saw this on on the “International Director’s Cut” version, although I’ve no idea what makes that version different than the Theatrical release. There’s still not much real gore to be seen in the film itself, and nothing out of the ordinary in the “Special Features” department. Still, it’s Region 1, presented in widescreen letterbox format, in the original Tagalog language with those absolutely perfect English subtitles I’ve come to expect. Can’t really ask for more. All for right around 10-15$ US too.
Yep, and last but not least… there’s a Trailer of course, and naturally your Favorite Catgirl’s got you covered… 😉