By Patricia Simone Dauz
One of the most creative shots in the film which seemed to defy gravity, is the engaging romantic dream sequence between the main characters, Jane and Tony.
“Hindi nila sasabihing B-movie or less of a Hollywood standard…so, we’re trying to start on that,” producer Rex Lopez, cousin of the auteur Pedring Lopez, explained to the bloggers and online writers aboard the Nilalang coaster going to SM Megamall for the premiere night last December 13. Also present in the bus were three of the main cast – Maria Ozawa, Meg Imperial, and Yam Concepcion. “More than 10 years na atang nakatago ang story na ito,” added Rex Lopez.
The story tells of a sleeping evil connected with the Book of Ishi, a spirit that looks like a case of bad smog during a heavy EDSA traffic, which can easily transfer from one person to another. This invisible antagonist loves to engage in bondage and slice its victims, including its hosts, before killing them. In the present time, Tony (Cesar Montano), an NBI agent, encountered the same evil about a decade ago in Nagasaki. Now someone dear to him got victimized and he sought to put a cork on it once and for all with the help of Miyuki (Maria Ozawa), a Yakuza’s daughter, and Jane (Meg Imperial), a pretty co-worker who has a crush on him.
Since this is a Filipino film supposedly shot in Japan, I can’t help but recall the similarities to a certain Japanese film, which has a similar concept of the unknown entity jumping from one person to another, Another Heaven. In the latter, Manabu, the protagonist, gets assistance from Asako, an ex-con who owe him a debt of gratitude. However, in Nilalang, there are a bunch of red herrings connected to the family history which hinted that for some reasons, the creature end goal was to exact vengeance upon Mr. Kazudo’s (Richard Manabat) daughters, Akane (Yam Concepcion) and Miyuki.
Like water, the use of smoke was a great allegory to life’s transitory nature, since it is also part of our everyday life (unless a person is just holed up in a room). Relationships surrounding the protagonist happened faster than the action scenes in the film. At the beginning of the film, Tony’s long-term relationship with his girlfriend Tin (Aubrey Miles) is on the rocks. Fifteen minutes later, they’re okay again, and something happens to her. Then, he flirts with Miyuki. When he meets Akane, he flirts with her too, just using the eyes. Then he goes back to Miyuki.
The best thing about the film is the poster, designed by the producer himself, Rex Lopez. The next best thing about the film is its visual details in dimly lit scenes that were supposedly filmed using a Lumix Black Magic Camera. The fast-paced action sequences, as sparse as they were in number, were clearly shown and the “match action” sequencing was logical.
If you want to watch a film which leaves you with more questions from the beginning and yet, it will not be answered in the end, watch Nilalang. One of these is, why doesn’t the invisible entity take control of one of the main characters’ body prior to the ending?
The film is part of the 2015 MMFF and will be shown in theaters nationwide on Christmas day. It also stars Cholo Barretto (Totoy), Kiko Matos (Mark), and Dido de la Paz (Col. Guevarra).