Pagpag (Siyam na Buhay): Movie Review

Local horror films have a penchant to be a lackluster mess and let's be honest that this is more so rampant with the usual Metro Manila Film Festival entries. "Pagpag (Siyam na Buhay)" surprisingly deviates from this expected result. While the film admittedly combines several elements from other films, the end result is far from a second rate copy. Inconsistencies aside, as a whole, "Pagpag" is chillingly scary and there's never a dull moment from start to finish.

Leni (Kathryn Bernardo), an orphaned girl, runs her family's funeral parlor with another orphaned kid named Mac-Mac (Clarence Delgado). One day, a mysterious woman, Lucy (Shaina Magdayao), hires her to do the funeral arrangements of her dead husband (Paulo Avelino) at Lucy's house. Her staff warns her that their are rumors that Lucy deals with the devil but Leni does not believe this. While on her way out of Lucy's house, Leni is almost hit by Cedric (Daniel Padilla). The near collision causes one of Cedric's friends to feel sick and the group is offered to stay at the Lucy's house to rest. As the group waits for their friend to recover, each violate local beliefs on visiting the dead. The group at first laughs at the idea of these so-called beliefs but as each die one by one, they soon realize that what they thought are silly beliefs at first are actually true.

"Pagpag", as the title implies, is a film about the beliefs of what to avoid doing when going to a funeral lest you want to offend and attract evil spirits. As simple as these rules or beliefs are, the film is actually far deeper than that. The story itself is detailed enough to have its own backbone and while it was predictable at times, it was interesting enough to keep us glued the whole time. The film suffers heavily on inconsistencies though as it had a tendency to break its own rules. Without spoiling much, the film is very similar to how a "Final Destination" film works specifically on how a character dies. While some characters get this special "interconnected" treatment, some don't and even one character gets killed just because they needed another one dead just to keep the story moving forward. The visual effects are okay but not great. The cinematography and sound are superb and greatly propels the scare factor. Acting-wise, the leads do a good enough job while the supporting cast are a mixed bag. While "Pagpag" does not reinvent the wheel, it is also superior in a lot of ways to the usual local fare from this genre.

Rating: 3 and a half reels

Why you should watch it:
- the film is surprisingly scary at times and there's never a dull moment

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- lacks consistency with its pagpag lore

Image Source: ABS-CBN News

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