Abomination (2015): Brilliant Mystery Thriller (Review)

Abomination

Co-written and directed by Yam Laranas (who also worked as DP) Abomination holds the viewer’s interest from start to finish. Classed as a mystery thriller this latest offering from the man who gave us The Echo is the cinematic version of a “page turner.” Quite literally, the film is an addictive treat that one feels compelled to stick with to its very surprising end.

The story follows young Rachel Rivera, a troubled teen with a number of mental issues. She feels responsible for putting her father in a coma and is on medication  meant to help her control her emotions.

Rachel, it seems, has trouble separating truth from fiction. She also has an anger management problem. The film starts with Rivera covered in blood and in a state of confusion.

The mystery starts immediately and the story keeps the audience on its toes as the young teenager struggles to make contact with her family. She is taken to hospital and when the well-meaning nurse calls Rachel’s mother, the woman hangs up.

Throughout the film the audience is taken back to Rachel’s recent past. The girl relives various traumatic and upsetting memories and we are privy to her pain and confusion.

Filmed in the Philippines, Abomination features English dialogue and has not, apparently, been dubbed. This adds a lot to the proceedings and each actor manages to knock it out of the park despite the odd awkward speech pattern.

Tippy Dos Santos is spot on as the heroine of the piece. As Rachel she manages to convey both sides of this troubled character almost effortlessly. To Santos’ credit we never see the wheels turning behind her performance.

Toni Moynihan play’s Rachel’s mum Vicki with a mixture of tired resignation and helpless anger at the situation she finds herself in. Justine Peña, as Mindy, makes the most of a smaller role and, like Santos, convinces as the confused best friend.

David Bianco, as Dan, makes a splendid rotter and the audience applauds when this roofie toting miscreant gets his comeuppance.

Laranas manages to shift the gears of the film almost seamlessly. There are a number of revelations, some more traumatic than others, that continue to surprise the audience.

Abomination has been put together very well. As one attempts to piece together events that have shaped Rachel’s recent past and present, each occurrence dovetails perfectly with the O. Henry ending.

Yam Laranas is a master storyteller. (He shares writing credits with Gin De Mesa, Oscar Fogelström and Paolo Vacirca – the latter two for the screenplay.) In this project he manages to infuse the film with what feels like a supernatural slant.

Yam does not disappoint with his latest effort. His protagonist is a character we root for from the very first frame. The twists and turns of her story captivate as much as they mystify.

Rachel works so hard to learn the truth of who she is and how she came to die that we empathize completely with her plight. When at last the mystery is solved the audience is shocked.

Abomination is a solid 5 star film. It keeps the viewer guessing right up until the reveal and at 90 minutes never drags. Tippy Dos Santos makes the most of her role and gives the audience a heroine that is easy to root for.

The Echo (2008): Grudge-like Terror

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I’ve just fallen in love. Not with someone, but something; the film The Echo. Amazingly it is a re-make (not, if you’ve read many of my posts or seen my YouTube channel something I am too fond of) of a Filipino film titled Sigaw (second side note – which I am currently desperately searching for) which translates as Scream or Shout.

Directed by Yam Laranas and starring Jesse Bradford, Amelia WarnerKevin Durand , and Carlos Leon The Echo lives up to it’s billing on the cover. It boast’s that the film has been made by the producers of The Grudge and The Ring. The influence of both films is very evident in this spine tingling (yes, I know cliche time but damn it fits) and scary movie.

Ex-con Bobby (Bradford) has been released from prison, he was in for involuntary man-slaughter, and is on parole. He moves into his dead mother’s apartment and gets a job working for Hector Rodriguez (Leon) as a mechanic. He hunts down his ex-girlfriend Alyssa (Warner) and they attempt to restart their earlier romance.

Meanwhile, Bobby’s neighbour, a cop (Durand) is noisy and appears to be beating his wife and daughter. And there are some strange things going on in his dead mother’s flat, not to mention some really odd noises.

This is a cracking film very much in the land of The Grudge and The Ring. It was well paced and the reveal/twist was genuinely surprising and satisfying.

"From the producers who brought you..."
“From the producers who brought you…”

The performances were spot on and I was pleased to see Bradford again as the last thing I’ve seen him in was the 2002 film Swimfan.  His wounded countenance and perplexed disposition went a long way to convincing me that his character was someone who’d always toed the line until the manslaughter incident.

Warner was brilliant as his ex-girlfriend who initially does not want to start over with Bobby and then changes her mind.

I also loved Durand in this film. The first thing I ever saw him in was the 2007 film Wildhogs and he was incredibly funny as the half-witted biker thug. In this film, he is evil, tragic, and scary.

Durand. Did I also mention creepy?
Durand. Did I also mention creepy?

This film delivered the scares in spades and almost creeped me out so much that I wanted to leave the lights on when I went to bed. Not to mention that every little (or not so little) noise had me jumping and jerking like I had an electric lead attached to my body.

SPOILER TERRITORY IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM, DO NOT READ THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH!

The ending of the film was also brilliant. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive (along with the police) we know that Bobby is screwed. Despite the fact that he has managed to save (we hope) his girlfriend, he’s broken his parole so it’s back into the “Big House” for him. Somewhat of a downer after the brilliant twist just before in the film.

OKAY, SPOILER ALERT OVER, READ ON…

loved this film and because of that, I’m giving it a full 5 star rating. It took the lessons learned from The  Grudge and The Ring and it did not blatantly copy either film. There was no “jerky” movements from anyone and no, “A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-h,” noises either.

So, have you seen this film? What did you think about it? How about the original Filipino film? And on that note, if anyone has any idea where to find this film (the original) please, for the love of God, let me know?

The Echo 2004 aka Sigaw, anyone know of a subtitled copy, anyone??
The Echo 2004 aka Sigaw, anyone know of a subtitled copy, anyone??