There is real promise in Mark Meily’s Maledicto.
The film focuses on a psychologist-turned-priest (Tom Rodriguez) who is constantly wrestling with his refusal to immediately believe in the occult as prescribed by his faith in logic and science. It is built on the lingering distrust in the institutions that it bravely fosters. While it occasionally goes for shock and violence, it relies predominantly on the bleak atmosphere it carves out of characters with moral conflicts.
Sadly, that promise is ultimately trumped by a glaring incompleteness.
Maledicto is really not one coherent film. It is but a set-up for either a series or a franchise that desires to form its foundation on the battle waged between forces of good and evil in a country where religion and paganism are at odds. It is stifled by a lumbering rhythm that is further exposed by an observable lack of form. From its opening that introduces the motivation of the main character to enter the priesthood but without abandoning his lack of faith, it treads its confusing narrative without sophistication or elegance.
It simply goes from one scene to another like a television show without the benefit of commercial breaks for rest.
The film can be torturous. As it listlessly develops both its characters and plot, it offers hardly any real comfort in its many setups, relying heavily on its audience to build interest in a lore that is never fully realized. It doesn’t help that the film is visually somber and lacking in character. While the visual effects are fine, the film doesn’t really astound in a way that makes its spectacles memorable. The film is simply just drab, making its desire to create a universe that has quite a potential, hard to achieve.
Uncertain of what it wants
Maledicto is uncertain of what it really wants to be and what it really wants to do.
It is hesitant to reveal all of its tricks, as doing so might remove any anticipation for the continuing storyline that it introduces near the end. This is really unfortunate considering the most intriguing aspect of Maledicto is not the artificial horror it conjures from its machinated myths and legends but its discussions on the corruption that dwells deep within the institutions that guide the morality of the populace. The film actually attempts to politicize its discourse of evil but it only touches the surface of what it wants to achieve, leaving everything to sequels and series.
Rodriguez is a serviceable lead. It is the supporting cast members who shine – Eric Quizon who plays the questionable monsignor, and Miles Ocampo who grants her possessed teenager more humanity than the screenplay requires.
Meily’s filmmaking is sturdy and reliable in the sense that Maledicto does what it sets out to do, no matter the limitations of the intention of being simply the first of many planned installments. It is not a bad film. It is just glaringly deficient.
More to come
As mentioned, there is real promise in Maledicto.
Sadly, that promise isn’t something that would make one look forward to what happens next. Evil should be more alluring and enticing, and Maledicto, with its hesitant and veiled ways, leaves nothing but failed expectations. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.
Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.