Saturday, December 15, 2007

Three Days of (Too Much) Darkness

Soothsayers say that sometime in the future, the world will be enveloped in what is called the three days of darkness. In this period, the sun will not shine and demons will be given free reign to roam over the earth. Anyone who is caught outdoors will immediately die. Anyone indoors will only find protection in the light of a candle and prayers. This will signify a great sifting of the believers and the unbelievers in this world.

This is the background of a recent independent film by Khavn Dela Cruz, entitled Tatlong Araw ng Kadiliman (Literally, Three Days of Darkness.) As ambitious as it was, in this honest blogger's opinion it ends up a bit short in delivering the atmosphere that it tries to establish. What ensues is a slightly entertaining mess that leaves you sauntering in the dark.

Precious Adona (who has now probably entered the public consciousness for her FHM cover appearance) Katya Santos and Gwen Garci are three women/halfies(didn't know this until I researched stuff about the film!)/friends who happen to stumble upon the apocalypse. Although the three nights of darkness figures prominently in the film, the film is actually more of a study of these characters and their convictions, their relationships with each other and with life.

It is portrayed early on that these three are sinners; each of them has their own personal conflicts and displays (or hides) their angst in their own personal way. I won't spoil you any of their issues, since the fun in watching this movie is in the discovery of these things.

(In a metaphorical way, you could say that the three women each represent the a certain point in time in our country with respect to our colonizers, with each one having their own sins and problems in this light. Try watching the film from this perspective and see if you can notice a connection.)

As a horror film the film does not deliver, because the atmosphere does not work as well as it could (and it could.) Digital films tend to capture darker images, and with minimal lights and the right sounds you get a convincing atmosphere of darkness. For most of the movie it works to an extent, but nothing scary or climactic ever does happen and it ends up being boring (until the climax does appear, and in this case it is too late.) A good portion of the end takes place in
complete darkness, and I thought that the implied horror of what goes on in that darkness could work. Unfortunately the scene lingers far too long inside the darkness and you are left checking your watch (that glows in the dark) waiting to see how long it has taken.

Another aspect touted by the movie is its "extreme" factor, in one instance showing its rating by the cinema ratings board for scenes of extreme violence and sex. To be honest, this movie is pretty tame in comparison to many other films of its kind, made by Miike or some of the Category III movies of Hong Kong (and as Miike can show, dread can be expressed minimally through silence and well-paced scenes) Many strange scenes abound but they are more bizarre than scary or 'violent.'

There is sex, but the titillating factor is kinda taken away (how can you see sex in the dark?) and the sex is used as a plot and characterization device, but like the scene with the total darkness, it tends to be overlong. This is considering that I enjoy the occasional random sex scene.

At the end of the world, instead of repenting, the three characters each succumb to their sins and suffer the consequences. In a way it tends to be a reflection of our own selves, and as flawed as it is, this film serves as a big mirror reflecting us.

If the world would end today, would you be ready?