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Tragic Theater: a lesson in demonic possession

Tragic Theater gives an edge-of-your-seat thrill that will have you rooting for the lead stars.

Tragic Theater: a lesson in demonic possession-Rhea Manila Santos
Rhea Manila Santos

Twitter: @allaboutmanila


01/10/2015 12:30 AM
Tragic Theater: a lesson in demonic possession
011015-tragic_main.jpgWhen it first made headlines last month after making history as the first Pinoy horror movie to earn two X ratings from the MTRCB, the public wondered how scary Tragic Theater could really be. Unlike the usual scary sequences that rely on violent deaths and grotesque or demented characters, this Tikoy Aguiluz-film based on a novel by G.M. Coronel about a group of spirit communicators who attempted to exorcise the ghosts of more than a hundred construction crew members who were buried alive during the rushed construction of the Manila Film Center in 1981.

Tragic Theater starts out simply enough with Department of Tourism employee Annie Francisco (Andi Eigenmann) visiting her counseling priest Father Nilo (John Estrada) because she is part of a special project to rehabilitate an abandoned theater which is rumored to be haunted. Father Nilo assembles his group for a visit along with Annie and they are able to communicate with some of the dead who make it known that they do not want to be disturbed.

The movie succeeds in its creepy undertones not just because we know the story is based on true-to-life events, but because it is not reliant on CGI and instead uses physical movement, which some of the stars admitted required numerous takes in order to get the desired effects. Although it was scary enough, some scenes seemed a bit stretched out which lessened the overall impact. Andi Eigenmann is a fragile woman who has been trying to get over past trauma and John Estrada is impressive as a sympathetic priest who wants to help her battle her inner demons.

During the exorcism scenes, it looks like the film decides to totally depart from the back story of the lost souls in the abandoned theater and deal with a new demonic entity that arrives after the tragedy occurred. This faceless evil manages to possess one of the members of the group which leaves everybody helpless until Bishop Agcaoili (Christopher De Leon) is called upon to perform an exorcism, a ritual which he does not seem all too confident to do again after a failure that happened in the past. Although not much else is explained about his character, Christopher does his best to give justice to the role of the guy who try saves the day.

If there is anything Tragic Theater seems to be trying to do, it is to give the Filipino audience a closer view at what happens during an actual exorcism and what may or may not be going through the possessed person’s mind. It is this kind of psychological warfare that may actually be the scariest thing. If you enjoy a good horror story without needing to be grossed out or have that too-scared-to-look kind of feeling, then Tragic Theater promises you that dreaded feeling all horror fans enjoy up until the very last scene.