Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles looks like a made-for-the-big-screen comic book because of shots divided into multiple panels and exquisitely-composed scenes with colors and settings that seem drawn to achieve a ghoulish grittiness.
Written and directed by Erik Matti, this fantasy horror adventure comedy film boasts of stunning visuals and graphic novel-inspired backgrounds that exude a sense of foreboding.
Filipino viewers have never seen local special effects reach this level of maturity. With 70 animators working on the project for the past two years, this film is proudly Filipino made.
The movie is technically excellent in form. The storyline is quite simple but it is relentlessly entertaining.
Dingdong--arrogant and boorish for a change--is cast as Makoy, the boyfriend of Lovi Poe’s character Sonia. He travels from Manila to a fictional town to convince his pregnant girlfriend to return to him. His efforts are thwarted by Fely, Sonia’s mother (played by Janice de Belen). Makoy finds an ally when he is encouraged by Nestor, Fely’s husband (played by Joey Marquez).
Since Makoy won’t take Sonia and Fely’s “No” for an answer, he ups the ante by becoming involved in Sonia’s birthday celebration. Makoy unwittingly brings upon them a group of “aswangs,” mythical creatures from Filipino folklore that feed on internal organs and human fetuses.
The happy-go-lucky Makoy assumes the responsibility of defending his girlfriend and their unborn child in their provincial house. It is here when all hell and logic-defying CGI breaks loose.
Tiktik is the first Filipino film shot entirely using green screen or chroma keying technology. Green screen technology is the same special effects seen in Hollywood movies such as 300 and Sin City.
Chroma key compositing o chroma keying is a special effect/post production technique wherein the background of the video is replaced with the desired special effects and computer-generated imagery (CGI). The screen used is usually colored green, hence its name.
Dave Yu, Tiktik’s visual effects director, headed the 30 artists who made 3D models, sketches and sculptures to fulfill the entire 12 months of the movie’s CGI and FX demands.
According to Yu, Tiktik--more than being a monster movie--is a love story where the special effects come second to the story.
Tiktik blends modern-day genres of entertainment to create a movie aiming to be at par with Hollywood standards: the fight scenes between Makoy’s group and the army of “aswangs” are akin to battle scenes in the video game Left for Dead; the “aswangs” themselves resemble zombies from the popular U.S. TV series Walking Dead.
Apart from these overseas references, Filipinos have never seen such an innovative film like Tiktik before, at least one that is locally made.
Tiktik delivers the laughs and gross-out thrills on cue, making sure it satisfies expectations the mainstream Filipino audience has come to anticipate from a fantasy/horror/adventure movie.
As a result, dialogue and actions are contrived. Characters merely serve to propel the plot forward. Action and dialogue are all dictated by what should happen next until the story reaches its planned end.
Dingdong Dantes’ performance is adorably annoying enough to be engaging. Wielding his buntot pagi (sting ray tail) as a deadly weapon, Dingdong looks ferocious as a warrior. Through this film, the actor is able to prove that he is more than ready to be cast as an action hero.
To her credit, Lovi Poe shows that she is hardly a damsel in distress.
Janice de Belen, Joey Marquez, and Ramon Bautista showcase their comic abilities, often to great effect.
Roi Vinzon (who plays Tatang, the head of the “aswang” tribe) and Mike Gayoso (who is cast as Ringo, the father of the slain “aswang”) both deliver a ring of truth to their performance.
Other than the movie tackling a unique Filipino folklore, it is the film’s tongue-in-cheek humor and unabashed product placements that make it distinctly and hilariously Pinoy.
It is easy to like Tiktik because it resembles a Hollywood production while retaining its distinctly Pinoy humor. It gets an A+ for effort and attention-calling special effects.
However, can the technical merits make up for the movie's seeming lack of emotional connection?
Some might dislike Tiktik the movie since it is as flashy as its main character Makoy: a man who is uber-confident his good looks will compensate for his lack of emotional depth.
Dingdong Dantes’s production company Agosto Dos Pictures produced this movie along with Reality Entertainment, Mothership, PostManila and GMA Films.
“Ang Pelikulang May Puso, Atay, Bituka, at Iba Pang Lamang Loob...” goes the tagline of this movie that has been rated PG by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. Tiktik: the Aswang Chronicles is Graded B by the Cinema Evaluation Board.
Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial team.