Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang

The movie tells the story of a woman who finds it hard to conceive a child, with her husband and the rest of their other co-villagers during the post-Japanese occupation era in the Philippines. After following a strict devotion to St. Gerard, she finally bears a child. However, the baby died during birth causing her to lose her mind and become an eater of babies and children - an aswang.

With the title translated as "Corazon: The First Aswang," I was confused whether the movie wants to teach Filipinos that the story about the first "aswang" or child-eating monster came about only after the time of war, when all along, aswangs have been part of local mythology since pre-colonization. On the other hand, it could just be from the point of view of the town where the story happened - meaning, Corazon was the first aswang of their town.

Furthermore, the title suggests that this is a horror film. However, most of the scenes are dramatic. It failed to achieve the objective of a horror film - to fear or loathe the aswang. Rather, the movie engages one to empathize with Corazon with the loss of her child, and to simply understand why she turned to snatching children and eating them. This caused the movie to lose its overall horror theme.

Acting could have been better, or maybe because the cast were good-looking ones. It is really hard to be afraid of Erich Gonzales' (as Corazon) face even with all the make-up because her face is angelic. Moreover, some scenes by Derek Ramsey (as Daniel, Corazon's husband) looked awkward - sometimes looking overly acted and sometimes lacking. There were scenes where Gonzales and Ramsey could have done better to capture viewers' emotions (e.g. birth and death of Corazon's baby).

I have to commend consistent quality acting from Tetchie Agbayani (as Melinda, a crazy woman astray), Epi Quizon (Naldo) and Mon Confiado (Berto). Bodjie Pascua's performance as Corazon's father proved that no role is too small for one to be able to stand out and shine.

Sadly and sometimes funnily, some extras acted really poorly - especially the gossiping mothers in the village. They sounded like it took them forever and a hard time to memorize a very short script.

Cinematography is good and special effects were appropriately incorporated in some horror scenes. Musical score, however, were not able to build the necessary suspense and horror, as well as drama in different scenes, that could have compensated for or complemented the acting. There were also several side stories and scenes that were unnecessary and just lengthened the film.

I like the overall concept of the film. It is very ambitious and really tried to create a work of art entirely different from other mainstream Filipino films. In creating future projects, directors and writers should focus on certain details of the film so as to totally engage the audience to believe its theme, to bring the necessary emotions, to have a consistent story, among others.

This movie definitely is worth watching to see how Filipino films have gone a long way from its stereotypes. Also, it deserved the B grading from the Cinema Evaluation Board.

My rating: 80% for a mainstream Filipino film


  1. I beg to disagree with some of your comments regarding the film. I think that the film was not really meant to be a horror film. Although the title has the word 'aswang' in it, it doesn't follow that it should fall under the genre of horror (at least, I didn't see it like that as soon as I saw the trailer and the poster). Those could be enough to set a good expectation of what the film has to offer. But the title served its purpose well -- to tell us what the story was about.

    Watching the film, I saw that the writer's purpose was to tell a dramatic tale of desperation and despair. It's about humanity. How we lose ourselves after a downfall. Corazon turning to an aswang could symbolize a lot of things, maybe from historical events to a simple every day life.

    They say it was an out-of-the-box horror but based on what I saw, the film was an out-of-the-box drama.

    Well, this is just my opinion but you have a very good review here. Very helpful. Thanks for posting this. :)

    1. Good point on your explanation regarding its genre (drama versus horror). Agree that the movie tells about human nature on how we lose ourselves after a tragedy. Thanks for the comments.

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