Mallari: MMFF Movie Review

Mallari MMFF Movie Review: Extravagant Horror

Delving into three intertwining timelines and employing a time-traveling twist, "Mallari" presents an ambitious scope. While the writers were able to tame this beast with a narrative that manages to engage and leaving its audiences intrigued, the overreliance on jump scares and the occult fails to tie up effectively with the overall storyline. This heavy-handed (and unnecessary) approach to horror detracts from what could have been a refined, narrative-driven film instead.

Dr. Jonathan Mallari de Dios (Piolo Pascual) embarks on a journey to his ancestral home in Magalang, Pampanga, in search of a hidden chamber from his childhood - a chamber purportedly holding a cure for his fiancée's (Janella Salvador) severe illness. Upon arrival, we're introduced to his ancestors: Fr. Juan Severino Mallari (Piolo Pascual), the notorious 19th-century Filipino serial killer, and Johnrey Mallari (Piolo Pascual), a chronicler of World War II in the Philippines for the Americans. As eerie occurrences unfold within the house, it becomes evident that his quest may bring more harm than good to his loved ones.

In the realm of fantastical and supernatural cinema like "Mallari," stringent logic isn’t always to be expected. There's always a give and take involved as we're delving into imaginary stuff. Yet, the fundamental plot struggles to find coherence. Elements often feel forced, serving the narrative agenda without solid grounding. The biggest question for us is why is there a need to continue the legacy of murders across time? While the rationale is clear in the 1800s in Fr. Mallari's time, subsequent timelines lack this clarity and cohesion. The handling of time travel also raises eyebrow-raising issues, from small stuff such as our protagonists modern-day attire back in time without issue to seamless communication across eras to bigger issues such as the reasons how the Mallaris are able to go selectively go back in time.

However, the film's glaring misstep lies in its gratuitous use of unnecessary horror and jump scares. The continuous barrage of ghostly appearances lacks purpose, serving more to frustrate than thrill. It's apparent why they put this excessive amount in "Mallari" and ironically it backfires by producing the opposite effect. Despite these drawbacks, "Mallari" maintains a level of entertainment. It's fundamentally flawed but manages to strike occasional emotional chords, buoyed by its visually captivating cinematography and commendable performances by Piolo Pascual and JC Santos in particular. Surprisingly, a degree of attachment develops with the main characters, though the film could have greatly benefited from more refinement and streamlining. "Mallari" assumes forced scares are necessary for a fulfilling experience, missing the mark on delivering a cleaner and better narrative in the process.

Rating: 3 reels

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