Multi-awarded director Erik Matti led one final press conference for his Metro Manila Film Festival entry Seklusyon with very good news to share with the public. The horror-thriller, which held its world premiere at the very first International Film Festival and Awards Macao (IFFAM), earned a rave review from top US-based entertainment publication, The Hollywood Reporter.
To quote from the article of critic Clarence Tsui on December 14, Matti’s latest masterpiece was described as “a grainy, gory parable about the triumph of evil.”
Elaborating, Tsui wrote: “Set mostly within the confines of a rickety house in the middle of nowhere, the film provides chilling bursts of outright shock and sepia-tinged, creepy atmospherics. Unflinching in its darkness, it spirals toward an all-out horrifying climax—and boasts a disturbing coda which, like in The Omen or Infernal Affairs could be considered a social allegory about how good doesn’t necessarily defeat evil.”
Matti along with cinematographer Neil Derrick Bion and Ericson Navarro were particularly noted in the review for “infusing the widescreen imagery with grainy textures reminiscent of the scary movies from the celluloid era [as they manage]to establish a sufficiently eerie ambience for the evil spirits to wreak havoc in.”
The article finally declared, “Seclusion drips with a ferocity about how false messiahs manipulate meek minds who, as the film’s finale suggests, then propel even more malicious pretenders onto the pedestals of power. The film is Matti’s call for an awakening, and it certainly stirs with spine-tingling moments aplenty.”
‘My kind of horror
Naturally, Matti was very pleased over the Hollywood Reporter’s stamp of approval of Seklusyon, and humbly credited his young cast, comprised of Ronnie Alonte, Dominic Roque, and newcomers John Vic de Guzman and J.R. Versales for their compelling performances as four young deacons sent to a seclusion house before their ordination as priests.
He also shone the spotlight on Phoebe Walker who plays a mysterious nun who joins the deacons in seclusion, and an apparent new favorite of the director, 8-year old Rhed Bustamante who portrays a young girl with miraculous healing powers.
“They all delivered wonderfully, but Rhed, everyone should watch out for her,” Matti enthused.
Speaking with The Manila Times, Matti, related that Seklusyon is “his kind of horror movie,” in that it is a digression from the “kill-a-minute” kind of horror that has prevailed in the big screen as of late.”
“For me, a good horror isn’t just visual but it also has to scare the viewer physchologically,” he explained. “This being a period film [set in the 1940s], we also had a substantial budget of P18-million for the production alone, but in saying that, we have none of the CGI-technology used nowadays in horror flicks. Kasi, my kind of horror is one that has the following elements: May gulat, kaba at tindig-balahibo.”
Within the rules
Meanwhile, Matti, who had just returned from the Macao film festival chuckled when asked if he foresees any complication in Seklusyon’s chances of winning Best Picture at the 2016 MMFF following its world premiere outside the Philippines.
It will be remembered that it was Matti’s 2015 entry Honor Thy Father, starring John Lloyd Cruz, which ignited a Congressional hearing and the series of changes now in place in the MMFF since he had won Best Director for the movie but complained why the film was disqualified for Best Picture.
“For the record, the rules have changed,” the director acknowledged. “Unlike before, a movie which previously held its premiere in another film festival is eligible for all awards in the MMFF once selected as a finalist. So we’re OK.”
Seklusyon held its world premiere on December 11 at UA Galaxy Cinema in Macao, with Matti present, along with his partner producer for Reality Entertainment, Dondon Monteverde, and cast members Neil Ryan Sese, Dominic Roque and Phoebe Walker.
The film was the lone Philippine entry in the festival’s non-competition “Hidden Dragons” section representing the latest trends in contemporary Asian genre cinema.
In addition to the film’s world premiere, Matti and Monteverde were also honored at IFFAM with The Crouching Tigers festival award for best pitch for their upcoming film project, Pintakasi.
The award came with a cash prize of $10,000 that will go a long way in funding the film that will be headlined by sought after leading men Piolo Pascual and Dingdong Dantes.
“Pintakasi is inspired by the infamous Mamasapano tragedy that resulted in the deaths of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force while battling rebel forces during a mission to pursue Malaysian terrorists,” concluded Matti.