Quark Henares and Jerry Lopez Sineneng's Wag Kang Lilingon (2006) is a Filipino horror film composed of two stories, "Uyayi" and "Salamin," each directed by Henares and Sineneng, respectively. Describing the film as horror, initially, is perhaps deceiving, because the film works equally as a strong drama with rich characterization and performances.
"Uyayi" is about a couple, Melissa, a nurse at a hospital where a rash of mysterious murders are occurring, and James, an investigative journalist. Melissa is worried about her own safety at the hospital and the total inexplicable nature of the killings, and James takes the opportunity to go undercover in the hospital as a patient to investigate the murders and spend more time with Melissa. "Uyayi" takes as its focus a very intimate look at the relationship with Melissa and James. The story captures the two in the stage of the relationship where both are very much in love and the next step for the two is the proposal of marriage. The only thing stopping the two's union is the rash of murders and the clues which keep popping up (and sometimes having a connection to either James or Melissa).
Henares-directed "Uyayi" is the shorter of the two segments and benefits from its short running time. Impulsive and immediate, a real tension is created from the beginning, where a critical patient is visited by a ghoulish specter. It arrives from under his bed and crawls over his toes, as the audio is filled with heartbeats and blips of the overwhelming fear of the patient. Horror imagery punctuates "Uyayi" in a creative way: Henares chooses to use irrational, dream-like images of sick-looking ghouls and ghosts, akin to the images in the video in Hideo Nakata's The Ring (1998). The brief glimpses of the images give them more of an impact and make them nightmarish and effective. "Uyayi" has as its primary location the hospital and it's filmed interestingly with a heavy use of dark shadows and fuzzy green/white light during the nighttime scenes and filled with soothing clean light in the daytime scenes. This juxtaposition also heightens the nightmare quality of the film. "Uyayi," needless to say, is done very well as a horror story.
Henares shows a real strength in his direction of Melissa (Anne Curtis) and James (Marvin Agustin). Henares previously directed two excellent dark films, Gamitan (2002), a drama, and Keka (2003), a comedy. Both films, as well as "Uyayi," show an adeptness at creating dramatic relationships, imbuing them with an intimacy and realism which draws the viewer in. Curtis and Agustin feel like a very real couple, as both actors give good performances and have charisma and chemistry.
Jerry Lopez Sineneng's second and longer segment, "Salamin," is about a family, a mother, her adult daughter Angel (Kristine Hermosa) and her child daughter, Nina. The close trio move into an affordable large home, where they are able to begin a new life after the exit of their husband and father. Angel is attempting to hold the family together and her own life, including a relationship with cheating Lander. In the segment's and film's best scene, Hermosa's Angel reassures her younger sister that everything's going to be all right. The scene's extremely touching and real and gives depth to the drama. The last thing this family needs is to move into a haunted house. Unfortunately, a haunted house is where they're going to dwell.
Unlike "Uyayi," "Salamin's" scare scenes, at first blush, initially come off as cheesy. The horror is provided in a more traditional way with ghostly images in a large mirror, bed shaking with young Nina, and dark corridors filled with ghosts in the shadows. However, Sineneng's able to combine the imagery with some sick audio. In fact, the scene where Nina awakens to her bed shaking and the introduction of a cheesy ghoul immediately becomes frightening. Not focusing his camera on poor make-up, Sineneng focuses on the ghoul's eyes and sinister grin with an accompanying laugh that's chilling. "Salamin" is very-well done, old school ghostly horror.
This is the only work that I have seen from Sineneng. The bulk of his work seems to be done in television. Sineneng shows talent, especially in creating drama. Hermosa's performance as Angel is terrific and she really conveys a strong range of emotions. I felt an immediate kinship and empathy with her character. The two segments are linked in a very unique and unexpected way. The least said about it, the better. For those who've had their fill of visceral torture horror, Wag Kang Lilingon is available as a refreshing alternative.