Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Mystery of the Night - Fantasia 2019 Movie Review

The Movie: Mystery of the Night

The Director: Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr

The Cast: Solenn Heussaff, Benjamin Alves, Gina Alajar, Elizabeth Oropesa, Allan Paule

The Story: 1900 colonial Philippines. During the time of Spanish tyranny and oppression, a woman raised in the enchanted woods by nymphs experiences love for the first time from a man from town. When she is later betrayed and experiences heartbreak, hell hath no fury indeed like a woman scorned as she transforms into the mythical aswang out to avenge her pain and let the man suffer forever. - reelsuspects.com

The Review:
This film is a loose adaptation of Rudy Vela's stage play Ang Unang Aswang (The First Aswang) which is a folk tale about forest nymphs in the Philippines. Director Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr adapts the play into an erotically charged and gore filled tale of colonial horrors and mystical fables that has the feel of a stage production but with the depth and lush backgrounds of  a cinematic feature.

At first glance, this looks like a horror movie but it's much more of a fairy tale albeit a dark one but not to the level of something like Pan's Labyrinth. Sure, there are some seriously gory moments and the story deals with some pretty dark stuff when it comes to colonization, greed, and lust for power but I felt it would have been more impactful if the tension was kicked up a few notches and we got to experience a few jump scares as well. As is, the story just sort of meanders along and then tries to shock us with buckets of blood or some creepy fairy tale type stuff.

Mystery of the Night is a solid effort from an experienced director but lacks any real punch or the energy that is needed for this type of movie.

Mystery of the Night is an official selection of the 2019 Fantasia International Film Festival.

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