PEP REVIEW: Tarot boasts of a tight and unpredictable storyline

In one scene of Tarot, (from left) Marian Rivera, Alwyn Uytingco, and Dennis Trillo encounter mysterious figures chanting in the forest. This horror film directed by Jun Lana will open in cinemas starting August 26, 2009.

JunLana's Tarot is a scary Pinoy horror film. It's so scary that I whencame home to my apartment at around midnight, I was spooked by the white gauzecurtain billowing in the breeze from the half-opened window. I replaced it witha heavier one (never mind the heat) and, while at it, turned my full-lengthdressing mirror to the wall and covered the television screen with atablecloth. My side of the apartment will probably be like that for the nexttwo days and two comedy films later.

Ifeel like kicking myself because Tarot is a sum of horror movie staples:a zombie bride, a creepy religious cult in a rural mountain town, astrange old lady who foretells disaster, and of course, the disturbing set offortunetelling cards.

Againsther mother's admonitions, Cara (Marian Rivera) cultivates the psychic gifts sheinherited from her grandmother Auring (Gloria Romero), a talented fortunetellerwho owns a powerful set of Tarot cards. One day, Cara foretold two deaths inthe family. Minutes later, her father and her grandmother fell dead and she isforbidden by her mother (Susan Africa) from using her psychic ability. Thecards were also buried with her Lola Auring.


Fifteenyears later, Cara's and her fiancé Miguel (Dennis Trillo) were separated in ahiking trip. As days passed and Miguel remains missing¸ Cara defies hermother's restriction and digs up her grandmother's grave to take back thecursed cards and use them to find her fiancé. She finds Miguel but soon,strange things began to happen and a terrifying specter terrorizes them. AsCara struggles to end the murders, she must dig into the dark secrets of herfamily's past.

Tarothas a tight and rich storyline that is sustained until the end. There are manymisleads and plot twists that keep the audience at the edge of their seats butthe storyline is as clean as a meticulously combed hairpiece; not a strand inplace.

Itsstrength lies in the suspense—the strategic positioning of the veiledapparition to induce thrill and fear, the mood setting before the next attack,and (this is very rare in Pinoy horror) the unpredictability of the plot, whichkeeps us wanting more and yet dreading the next appearance of the vengefulghost.


DirekJun Lana also made sure that there are images that will stick to mind and hauntus in solitude, which is unavoidable since there are curtains, clotheslines,beds, hallways, and doors everywhere.

Theblending of family history and the occult is also nothing new but in Tarot, it glues the elements of the filmtogether—the origins of the ghosts and the reason for the haunting explained.No character and event goes to waste.

Trivia:the filmmakers used a specially designed set of cards so as not to attractsupernatural elements while filming the movie.

The film, which also stars Gloria Romero, Celia Rodriguez, Alwyn Uytingco, Roxanne Guinoo, Niña Jose, and Susan Africa, was shot partly in Mt. Banahaw (considered to be a sacred mountain for many religious groups).

Tarot isgraded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board and rated PG-13 by the Movie andTelevision Review and Classification Board. It will open in cinemas nationwidestarting today, August 26, 2009.

Trailer courtesy of Regal Entertainment





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