September 4, 2009

TAROT Torrent (2009)

A frazzled continuation of local stars Marian Rivera and Dennis Trillo's venture into the supernatural realm after "Pamahiin", "Tarot" doles out the creepy rituals, scraggly old folks, and archaic Tagalog sentence structures without ever deviating much from the local horror genre's already decomposing formula. Which is to say, Jun Lana's spookfest piles on the predictable twists in a highly perfunctory regard that's perfectly calibrated for mass consumption.

As typified by its portrayal of an old woman who mysteriously appears to spell out much of the narrative's convoluted mythology only to die soon after but not before oh-so conveniently sending Cara (Rivera) a revealing set of old pictures, much of Lana's narrative hinges on a couple of deus ex machinas to move it forward. After losing her fiancé Miguel (Trillo) on a hiking trip, Cara uses her gift of clairvoyance with the help of tarot cards dug from her grandmother's grave. Alas, good intentions notwithstanding, the poor couple soon find themselves haunted by a veiled woman intent on killing them and everyone around them.

With not a single moment when it tries to do something novel with its material, "Tarot" ends as a formulaic schlock that barely improves on Lana's other handiwork, "Mag-Ingat Ka Sa Kulam", an equally messy ghost tale that reeks of a stench from the Thai film "Alone". Yet despite its nondescript cheap shock tactics, hokey human drama and an army of cringe-worthy dialog, "Tarot", to its credit, slightly captures the sinister aura of its mountainous setting and the cult who inhabits it. Though eventually, just like riding on a horror ride for the hundredth time, it's nigh impossible to be fully absorbed by a PG-13 sanitized horror film where every scare (or shock) is performed with standardized predictability, and the strings already becoming visible.
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