A New Beast
by Jansen Musico

Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles (2012)
D: Erik Matti
S: Dingdong Dantes, Lovi Poe, Joey Marquez, Janice de Belen, Ramon Bautista, LJ Reyes

Erik Matti’s Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles isn’t as revolutionary as quite a few claim it to be. It will not change the face of Philippine cinema, but I won’t deny the importance of its existence. Shot fully on green screen, it’s the first movie of its kind in the Philippines. Although imperfect, it does pose a formidable challenge to Filipino filmmakers. Erik Matti does a respectable job with the technology at his disposal. Now it’s time for others to try and top his effort.

Tiktik has a very simple story inspired by folklore and traditional horror. It’s about a family under siege by a nomadic community of tiktiks, flesh-eating monsters with a preference for fetuses and newborns. Everything happens in one night, and the brunt of the action is mostly contained in a rickety house. This confined space makes for an excellent stage, which the actors take full advantage of.

The physical walls decrease the need for heavy special effects and allow the actors to shine on their own. Horror veterans Joey Marquez and Janice de Belen dominate. Marquez, who’s been away from the silver screen for the longest time, reminds me how talented he is. He is able to lose control with much control, mixing fear and a melee of other emotions without going over the top. Dingdong Dantes also does a good-enough job in channeling his normally misplaced intensity by taking on a caricature of a young Robin Padilla. Ramon Bautista rounds up the standouts by staying true to the oddball persona he’s known for.

The movie’s cracks get exposed once the action is taken out of the house. Though they work, the computer-generated graphics still need tweaking. The landscapes and backgrounds are outstanding, but the way they’re blended with the live action elements is sometimes off-putting, especially the dust and shadows. The creatures could have been cleaner, or in this case, grislier. The sound could have also used some refining. But nitpicks aside, Tiktik is still technically superior to its local contemporaries.

Violently fun and certainly ambitious, Tiktik succeeds in offering something new. It’s an effort which proves that we have a fighting chance against, or at least catch up with, the CGI-hyped blockbusters of the west. It shows that we can wield technology, use it to our advantage, and tell stories that are truly ours. Given that the title says “Chronicles,” we can only hope that the next few installments continue challenging and improving the genre.