The team-up is just as intriguing as the movie’s title.
This was top of mind for The Manila Times just before the press screening of the 11th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and Competition’s closing feature Silong. A production of SQ Film Laboratories and Black Maria Pictures, the romantic-thriller stars ABS-CBN stalwart Piolo Pascual and GMA Network actress Rhian Ramos. The full-length feature, which is also the directorial debut of singer-turned music video director Jeffrey Hidalgo and screenwriter Roy Sevilla Ho, will have its world premiere tonight at the closing ceremonies of Cinemalaya 2015 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
“Different,” rather than intriguing however, is the word that Pascual would rather use to describe the whole project. For besides being paired with Ramos, their roles and the movie’s entirety is something very new for the top dramatic actor and his leading lady.
“I play a very dark character in the movie,” Pascual explained. “And you could say that the movie is disturbing so it’s something totally new for me.
“As an actor, minsan gusto natin ‘yong hindi natin usually nakikita ng mga tao sa iyo,” he continued. “So I did this for the love of what we do, for the sake of art, and for the respect for our craft.”
The movie heartthrob effectively plays the role of a morose countryside doctor named Miguel, who is still mourning the loss of his wife Caroline, while scrambling to save his family home from creditors. Driving home one night on a deserted road, he almost runs over a badly beaten and bloodied lady who begs him not to take her to the hospital for fear “they would kill” her.
Miguel is forced to take Valerie (Ramos) home, nurses her back to health, and learns she is a battered wife who finally escaped her cruel husband.
Realizing he yearns for companionship, Miguel soon falls in love with Valerie, and just when he begins planning a new life for them, the unexpected happens, unraveling one heart-pumping scene after another.
Silong (Shelter) boasts of seamless cinematography and a unique yet effective musical scoring that is most probably the work of Hidalgo, who was a member of the defunct Smokey Mountain singing group in the ‘90s.
Ever the succinct actor, Pascual’s calculated delivery of his role succeeds in generating the kind of mystery needed to achieve the full effect of the chills, gore and the shock that ultimately make for a winning thriller.
Ramos, beautiful as ever, on the other hand provides the sensuality the storyline calls for—especially in her first ever love scene in a movie—even if her “colegiala” way of speaking somewhat seemed out of place in the most nail biting of scenes.
On the whole, however, Silong deserves the honor of closing the 11th Cinemalaya Film Festival in the same vein that it opened with the critically acclaimed movie, Taklub by Brillante Mendoza. For indeed, this moving picture—a product of a new breed of filmmakers—embody the ideals of the country’s most renowned independent film festival. Silong “boldly articulates and freely interprets the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.”
Silong also stars Guji Lorenzana, Raymund Concepcion and Angel Jacob from a screenplay by Roy Sevilla Ho. The film is produced by Black Maria Pictures’ Angelo Santos and Piolo Pascual.