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Review: ‘Bahay na Pula’ (2022)

Horror film ‘Bahay na Pula,’ from Cannes Film Festival Best Director Brillante Mendoza, is now available on Vivamax. If you want something new from Viva’s own streaming platform (and by new, we mean something that veers away from the more than usual erotic and sexy genres), #BahayNaPula is worth trying for its efforts to be such.

Direk Dante’s third project for Vivamax, with his own award-winning film production company Center Stage Productions, is a breath of fresh air (and the lack thereof during its edge-of-the-seat spooky scenes). He began with ‘Palitan’ with a hint of girls’ love (starring Jela Cuenca, Cara Gonzales, Luis Hontiveros, Rash Flores), followed by ‘Sisid’ (led by Kylie Verzosa, Paolo Gumabao, Vince Rillon) with a more elaborated focus on boys’ love.

This time around, he’s back on adding his own touch to a haunted house story set on a real haunted house in Pola, Oriental Mindoro. The tone in itself is frightening, more so are the three main characters played by Julia Barretto, Xian Lim, and Marco Gumabao. Each one of them has their own horrifying scenes in the movie that sets them apart from their usual roles. It’s refreshing to see Julia Barretto in this genre where she acts as a newly-wedded wife to Xian’s character. On another hand, Marco Gumabao, playing the ex-boyfriend of Julia’s character, is more relaxed with his abs and butt — spoiler ahead! — nowhere in sight. Kudos, as well, to the always-reliable acting of Erlinda Villalobos, who is endless creepy from start to finish.

Just like the first two Brillante Mendoza titles on Vivamax, ‘Bahay na Pula’ has his usual sense of foreboding for the most part of the film until it reaches a shocking ending. For a horror film, this one serves the right amount of scare albeit stretched out as far as the side stories are concerned. As a whole, it still delivers sufficient tension to make it interesting through and through. After several years of seeing the works of Brillante Mendoza, it is quite fascinating to learn more about how he does his craft especially when we talk about his production having no script for his cast to memorize.

‘Bahay na Pula’ tells the story of newlyweds Jane (Julia Barretto) and Marco (Xian Lim), who travel to Mindoro to sell the ancestral house that Jane inherits from her grandmother. The caretaker gives them a tour around the property, but Jane suddenly feels strange upon reaching the basement. That night, the couple make love to one another when suddenly, Jane notices that someone seems to be peeping at them. The next day, Jane and Marco were informed that the buyer of the property backs out, because the Municipal Council passes a resolution starting the process of declaring the ancestral house as a National Historic Site. Jane tries to talk to the Municipal Mayor to convince him to veto the council resolution. But to her surprise, her ex-boyfriend Anton (Marco Gumabao), now the Mayor’s secretary, faces her. While they lobby together to reverse the council’s resolution, old flames start to rekindle. At the same time, evil is about to be born as Jane experiences horrifying events inside the ancestral house that lead to her tummy growing bigger and faster by the day, as if she was pregnant.

Discover the mysteries behind the terrors of ‘Bahay na Pula,’ which is now streaming online on Vivamax in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Macao, Vietnam, Brunei, Maldives, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Europe, Canada and the United States of America.

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