NOTE: This review is for the R-18 version of The Healing.
Star Cinema's The Healing is remarkable because it's not afraid to surpass limits. It breaks a lot of taboos in Philippine filmmaking, and should be rewarded for that.
In The Healing, Vilma Santos plays Seth, a woman who brings her sick father Odong (Robert Arevalo) to Manang Elsa (Daria Ramirez), a faith healer. This results in a miraculous healing, such that Seth becomes a point-person to all her friends who want to be healed.
One day, Seth's group decides to the healer together to have their various ailments cured. The group is composed of Alma (Pokwang), Cita (Janice de Belen) and her daughter Kakay (Abby Bautista), Ding (Cris Villanueva), Chona (Ces Quesada), Greta (Ynez Veneracion) and her husband Ruben (Allan Paule).
Seth also refers Cookie (Kim Chiu), the daughter of her estranged husband's new wife, ordering her to go to the healer with Seth's son, Jed (Martin del Rosario).
When they arrive at the house of Manang Elsa (Daria Ramirez), she first doesn't want to do anymore healings. Seth convinces her, and soon, all of them also receive miraculous cures. But these miracles also come with a curse that they need to solve before it can result to their deaths.
Director Chito S. Roño is a veteran in doing horror movies. In 2004, he helmed the box-office hit Feng Shui, an answer to the Asian horror movie phenomenon.
The Healing, on the other hand, can be considered an answer to Hollywood's torture-and-gore horror movie phenomenon. It may be the first local horror film to do so, and thus it is refreshing to watch.
There is no shortage of shocking gore in The Healing. There are lots and lots of blood; horror movie fans will not be disappointed.
The movie is also made more fun by moments of fan service, that recalls several niches of pop culture that seem to be taboo in Philippine mainstream cinema. There's a small child wielding a ninja weapon killing groups of monks, before jumping to her death. There's a beheading using a giant knife. There are many more.
The story also offers something new, away from familiar themes like haunted houses and vengeful ex-girlfriends. It exploits the Filipino tradition of faith healing, and the consequences of tapping this alternative form of therapy.
What's most admirable is the fact that The Healing's actors went to great lengths to provide credence to the story. Vilma Santos, for instance, gets stabbed multiple times that you'd wonder how she can take these intense physical scenes at her age.
Kim Chiu should also be praised for her handling of her character, Cookie. Her early scenes when she needs to act sick are believable and downright affecting.
In summary, The Healing is suited for Pinoy horror fans. It is fun as it is shocking, and non-squeamish viewers should have no problem having a good time.
The Healing has received an “A” grade from the Cinema Evaluation Board.
This is also the first film given two classifications by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB): R-13 and R-18.
According to MTRCB Chair Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, they gave two classifications to The Healing "to help the movie industry reach a wider audience" and "to allow the audience the freedom to decide the version they will patronize."
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