Nay shines when it explores the heart of the relationship between Martin (Enchong Dee), a lonely young man abandoned by his parents, and Nay Luisa (Sylvia Sanchez), his yaya who harbors dark secrets.
Unfortunately, the movie gets muddled by other plot points that dull its overall sparkle.
The horror drama is an entry to Cinema One Originals Film Festival 2017. It is directed by Kip Oebanda, who also helmed the excellent Bar Boys from last August's Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.
Nay tells the story of Martin (Enchong Dee), an HR professional who lives alone in a house in a posh village somewhere in Metro Manila. His parents have been working abroad ever since he was a child, and so he grew accustomed to calling his yaya Luisa (Sylvia Sanchez) his Nay, or mother. Martin is aloof and an introvert, so his only other close relationship is with young businessman Francis (Jameson Blake), his cousin who is also his boss.
When Martin develops pancreatic cancer and chooses to die, Nay Luisa brings back his strength by turning him into an ikit (aswang) just like herself.
Martin is not so thrilled, though, because he does not want to kill and consume other humans to maintain his vitality.
Nay is at its best when the story focuses on the close connection between Martin and his yaya Luisa. Watching the camaderie between the two is heartwarming.
This Cinema One 2017 entry should be given praise for exploring a non-traditional familial relationship.
The most memorable scenes were the ones that show the tight bond between the two. One of these was the one at the beginning, when Martin was still a child and you can see Luisa's motherly, nurturing side for her ward. Sylvia was great at this scene, and it was easy to empathize with her.
Another memorable one was the one when Martin was nearly dying, and Nay Luisa was trying her hardest to convince him to not give up. This scene tugged at the heartstrings, because Enchong was able to match Sylvia's high caliber of acting.
However, the story got sidetracked with other plot points that ultimately changed the whole movie's tone.
For example, the movie tried to inject current events into the film by hinting at the issue of extra-judicial killings when it was discussing the aswang's choice of murdering poor people for food.
One scene even recreated the viral photo likened to the Pieta, which shows a woman cradling her partner who was shot and killed for supposedly being a drug user.
These scenes had an angry vibe to them, totally different from the warmth that the movie was initially going for.
The movie could have dug deeper into the dynamics of the complex relationship between Luisa and Martin. How does Martin see Luisa now that he has been turned into a monster? Is he now looking at their past years differently? Did Luisa really raise him as a son due to love, or was she selfishly grooming him as a sacrificial lamb?
Keeping the story small and focused between the two leads would have also avoided inconsistencies in the script and some obvious mistakes.
In one scene, Martin and Francis talk while scribbling frantically onto a notebook, so Luisa super-sharp hearing cannot hear them. They didn't need to do that, however, because they were already texting each other a few scenes beforehand. Why not just continue to send each other text messages?
Should you watch Nay? Perhaps, if you want to witness Sylvia Sanchez and Enchong Dee explore a mother-son relationship. They have emotional moments in this movie that can make you weep.
Do know though that the storytelling and direction are inconsistent, and the high moments are a few and far between. You might find it lacking.
Nay is one of the entries in the 2017 Cinema One Originals film festival that is ongoing until November 21 at Trinoma, Glorietta, Gateway, U.P. Cine Adarna, Cinema 76, and Cinematheque Kalaw with an extended run from November 22 to 28 at the Rockwell Power Plant Mall.
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.