Star Cinema’s new horror omnibus Cinco is just the kind of movie for people with short attention spans: five different episodes, each with its own horrific story line. And while the stories won’t haunt you long after you’ve left the theater, they had the gumption to tie up everything neatly and thematically. They are smart, smart, smart for using fresh directorial talent and a slew of young stars each with their own strong fan base. How can they fail?
Cinco opens with "Braso," where three frat neophytes (AJ Perez, Robi Domingo, and Sam Concepcion) are trapped in a morgue for three hours as part of their initiation. Director Frasco Mortiz keeps the scares coming one after another, and despite the slightly hokey special effects, this episode is fun: there’s lots of slime, and frat boy humor, and crotch grabbing. I mean, if you’re going to put three boys in underwear (as in wearing bras) in a morgue, what else can you expect?
"Paa" is the story of a poor woman from the slums of Basco (Jodi Sta. Maria) who is haunted by the ghost of a little girl who lost her life (and her foot) in a hit and run accident. Director Enrico Santos mixes traditional Filipino beliefs about the dead and lots of Catholic imagery--which is pretty scary by itself--with the vengeful ghost theory. Jodi Sta. Maria looks properly harassed as she is constantly terrorized by the dead girl. What’s the lesson here? Don’t steal shoes--or anything else for that matter--from the dead.
In "Mata," Rose (lovely Maja Salvador) is trapped in a nightmarish situation where her hotheaded boyfriend (Rayver Cruz) shoots someone in a traffic altercation. When the victim starts haunting her (yet again another vengeful ghost), she realizes that unless she takes control of the recurring nightmare, it only gets worse. Director Ato Bautista’s Groundhog Day-inspired episode stressed me out the most, since Rose’s frightened passivity was frustrating. Girl, take my advice: never date a guy who packs a gun in his car.
Director Nick Olanka’s "Mukha" is probably the most high concept episode in Cinco, using photocopies as a scare tactic for Mariel Rodriguez who plays a ruthlessly bitchy career woman who fires the janitor for making the wrong photocopies. Soon she finds out that he is dead and suddenly his photocopied face appears all over the office. It’s clever and tricky, until we realize that the manong janitor is really back for revenge. Too late for poor Mariel, who is having a very bad day at the office.
Last--and perhaps best of all--is Cathy Garcia-Molina’s episode "Puso" with Pokwang and Zanjoe Marudo. Set in a classic Pinoy perya, ugly Emily (Pokwang, I adore her!) is secretly in love with heartthrob Elvis--who is in love with another a girl, naturally the most beautiful one around. Lovesick, Emily gets her hands on some love potion. She pours the whole bottle into a shot of gin for Elvis and it’s almost happily ever after. But not quite--there’s no fairy tale ending here. Cathy Garcia-Molina does an awesome job combining humor, horror, and good timing. I don’t want to reveal too much but I will say that I wouldn’t mind having a Zanjoe Zombie chasing me through a dark and windy night.