Saturday, August 10, 2013

Kasambahay/The Housekeeper (The Dead's Grin) (2008)

Let's try Filipino Horror, why don't we? In this english-subtitled movie, Julius Roden, brings back old-school horror reminiscent of the 70's and 80's. If you're seriously getting fed up with mainstream "horror" movies, both in Hollywood and the Philippine Cinema, which relies on cheap scare tactics & ridiculous CGI ghosts or monsters - then please consider this one. It's freaking scary. Believe me. 

Kasambahay (The Dead's Grin) or The Housekeeper, which you could watch HERE, is Roden's debut into independent cinema, his first feature film paying homage to old-school horror which to me is much more effective than what we see right now. Given that the movie tends to become cheesy, and amateurish in terms of acting, still, this experimental film is a really impressive feat for a young director. 

At some point while watching, I thought "Did he use a digicam for this?" because scenes get a bit blurry when zooming in or out. After watching, I've read that he did use a digital camera. I wasn't annoyed at all, I mean I was watching an indie film after all. Plus, the scratchy tone of the movie and unpolished cinematography and camera angles are meant to look like an old classic.

So, just how scary is this film, you ask?
Well let me just say that 70% of the film I watched through the spaces between my fingers, at some point covering the screen with the plate where my pancake was. Also, I needed several ten-minute breaks while watching because my heart just wouldn't stop beating fast. It's not that there were alot of scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs moments, like every 5 minutes. No. This is the real deal, not some fake scare tactics you normally see in movies today. From start to finish, Roden will never let you relax. The atmosphere is tense all throughout, and while most of the time nothing happens, the fact that his execution is spine-tinglingly slow and creepy, you think something will happen. And of course you will get real scares - you just don't know when exactly. Which is why this movie is 100 % scary. You think you're prepared.... ready... hands clenched....anticipating a shocking scene.... fade to black, no.... nothing happens.... next scene, your heart is beating fast.... rapid and shallow breathing.... you think you saw a dark shadow lurking..... no.. nothing.... so you relax just a bit..... but only for a second....there's that creepy ass sound again... crying... begging...... sweat dripping... you just want the torture to end... bham! REAL SCARY SHIT! Believe me when I say, I jumped about a foot out of my seat and 4 feet across the room in two steps. I found myself dangling halfway in our staircase banister. A few seconds of mock-crying, then I laughed at myself. My freaking god this movie is crazy!

Okay, I admit, I get scared at my own shadow so I'm no credible judge as to how scary a horror movie is. But you just have to believe me on this one. I dare you to watch this scene without closing your eyes. I double dare ya!

My Rating: 4.5/5- Some of the actors may need workshop in the future, and some scenes tend to be cheesy (especially Sally's), so as a whole it could be a 3.5, but when it comes to scaring the poop out of me, I give this movie an almost perfect score. This is an edge-of-your-seat REAL horror movie, so tense that even after the movie ends your heart is still unsettled.

My favorite character: Manang Mansing - damn you Manang for scaring me with your close-up shot! You're not even the ghost hahahaha!

Julius Roden deserves a wider audience recognition. I'm gonna wait for that day where he is as popular as these gutless directors we see in mainstream Pinoy cinema nowadays.

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  1. This is one of the most scariest films I have ever watched! I have seen literally hundreds and this one made me feel scared....Normally I am not bothered by horror films... This one ? Total insanity!!!!! Loved your review !

    1. i know right! i went bat-shit crazy with the crying and the freaking hallway shots and the black lady. ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!! seriously though, this director deserves a spot in the film industry... we need him in our cinema

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Indeed amateurish when it comes to acting and cinematography but it really did look like a "Classic Pinoy Horror Movie", the atmosphere, score and tone. I've seen this movie when it premiered at Cine Adarna way back in 2008. Too bad Roden didn't get enough exposure and promotion. But I followed him until penetrated mainstream all by himself via All About Adam, which aired on IBC 13 in 2010. I hope you also make a review on his film "The Pattern". It's a nice film. It's on YouTube as well.

    4. Yes, I was actually planning on watching The Pattern immediately after watching Kasambahay, too bad I got distracted (books and tv series)... it's still on my to-watch list though.

      that's what i really loved about this film, the atmosphere and just the overall material. Creepier than most mainstream horror flicks I've seen. It gnaws on you. It doesn't rely on shock value, but it will indeed shock you when the scare scenes are there.

      thanks for commenting! =D

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