Film Review: Buy Now, Die Later…No Cheap Thrill
By Nonoy L. Lauzon/UP Film Institute
The movie succeeds primarily as an affront to consumerist society and an expression of outrage and disgust over people’s penchant in this age for instant gratification.
Most likely inspired by Needful Things, a Stephen King’s 1992 novel (eventually adapted into a major motion picture in the United States), Randolph Longjas’ Buy Now, Die Later, emerges as one of the more palatable official entries in the mainstream slate of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.
Prior to his latest release, new-breed filmmaker Longjas has only one other full-length feature to his credit with the Cine Filipino 2013 title, Ang Turkey Man Ay Pabo Rin. Needless to say, the newbie director sustains the promise of his film making break with a quantum leap for a reboot and refinement of the art of omnibus cinema in a flashy elocution of hybridity that combines the disparate elements of the bizarre, the macabre and the sardonic with the usual fantasy-cum-horror-cum-suspense-cum-comedy fare.
The film with its acting ensemble can be said to have some of the more annoying performances on the big screen for the year but not to the extent of distracting from its more meritorious attributes. It upholds radical thinking in rejecting the prevalent scheme of things that allows for the cult of celebrity, the allure of fame and preoccupations of vanity. It exposes the pretension of the capitalist system in the world and demolishes its claim to provide for every single human need. The creepy little curio shop of more than apparent horrors in the film is a metaphor as well as a device to serve as its springboard to dismiss the ideology of capitalism at large as diabolical handiwork.
The situations that audiences are confronted with as they watch the film may seem to be mindlessly superficial as intended. But the more discerning could easily recognize the Faustian stirrings of its intertwined narratives. It is replete with moments of adroit dialogue. Particularly clever is actor John Lapus’ gay character’s scene with the proverbial neighborhood brutes where he ends up punching with a verbal castigation unparalleled in its volley of sarcasm and witticism.
In similar light, the stage mom character of Lotlot de Leon gets a retort of comeuppance from Alex Gonzaga in her rising-star turn. All in all, the film owes its satisfactory finish with the good editing work put in it. Each of its collected tales imparting horrendous caution is rendered to respectively and effectively correspond to the five senses for just one more instance of evidence of the film’s undeniable astuteness.
One could not help but look forward to director Longjas’ next feature. After being done with belles-lettres allusions to Pygmalion with his take on interracial romance previously in Ang Turkey Man Ay PaboRin, he has now made a bold dig at Faust with Buy Now, Die Later – taking viewers for a ride of not necessarily cheap thrill. Beyond the rib-tickling and farcical gesticulation somewhat characteristic thus far of his individual cinema, Longjas may just prove to be the more erudite from the ranks of the country’s emergent filmmakers.