MOVIE REVIEW: Jake Vargas-Bea Binene starrer, Liwanag sa Dilim

Rico Blanco (right) is cast as a policeman in the aswang horror film Liwanag sa Dilim starring Jake Vargas and Bea Binene (left frame).


Liwanag Sa Dilim is probably supposed to be a beacon of light and hope for the local adolescent horror scene but Twilight it isn't. While the scares are effective to a point, the young love and adventure aspect suffers from characters and motivations that don't follow.
Nico (played by Jake Vargas) spends time in the rural area of Estancia where missing persons cases are prevalent. He and his new friends investigate the mysterious woman who may be the cause of it all.
To be fair, the cinematography is quite decent in the beginning and middle. Even the instances of suspense works well enough during the monster attacks. It's during the climax, a stylized encounter in the flickering light followed by an almost laughable mixed martial arts battle, where a dissonance is created.

The physical combat scene, with unbelievable leaps and the primal screams included, might have worked for a straight out action flick but with such a promising build up in the beginning, it just becomes incredulous.

The plot also has inconsistencies such as the defend-helpless-women protagonist suddenly deciding to violate another's privacy (in one of the most eye rolling stealth attempts ever) and the previously searched demesnes suddenly having evidence exposed quite handily. The mythical lore and mysteries that is hinted at is sadly underused, including a mcguffin plot device that gets the shaft.
But this is a teen horror movie, one with tropes and cliches arranged so logic is ignored in the face of cheap thrills. The monstrous culprit itself lost its fright feature when finally made visible with it's ineffective swoops and flailing arms. Being kept in the dark was better.

The prerequisite skin exposure is reserved for those who appreciate looking at a topless guy, a bit of an upset from the usual female nudity in horror films.
The title of the movie is from a song performed Rico Blanco. It's honestly quite catchy, though not quite fit for a horror adventure. The background music is effective with the proper cues and atmosphere building themes so it's too bad the rest of the film doesn't catch up.
The fresh young actors try their best with the material. Jake Vargas's boyish features tries to fit the action role given to him. He does get his shirtless exposure. Bea Binene is more conservative with her attire but displays some surprise leg work near the end. Igi Boy Flores plays a character one would either enjoy quite a lot or be completely annoyed with but is to be tolerated. Sarah Lahbati's role requires her to be beautiful and intimidating, which works quite well for her. Rico Blanco was one of the more competent characters in the film but sadly falls prey to horror cliches.
Liwanag sa Dilim is enjoyable enough but doesn't hold a candle to what it could have been. A promising start eventually morphs into a standard horror movie fare. Still, good for some thrills.



Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.


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