Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Updated Review #10: Sukob (aka The Wedding Curse)

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The lives of two women cross paths when their weddings have been cursed by a malevolent force.

Review: I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this is the best Filipino horror movie. My first review hardly did this film the justice it deserved, and I've upped the rating as well (which is rare). Considering the tremendous success "Sukob" experienced, I'm surprised it is not regarded among the Asian horror classics. Because of this, I rank it in the underrated list alongside the likes of "Ju-on: The Grudge 2," and "Coming Soon." I've read many reviews refer to "Sukob" as nothing more than a ripoff, but, to this day, I'm still trying to figure out what it rips off other than the usual Asian horror cliches. If anything, this film has an outright original story coupled with one of the most unique ghosts in the entire genre. Finally, I am still trying to figure out how real this superstition is. I've read many people claiming this is a known superstition in the Philippines, but all of these people are writing after 2006 (the year the film released). I've discussed this superstition with a decent number of Filipinos and they've all said the only thing they ever heard about this was from the movie itself. Does anyone know the answer? Can I get a single instance pre-2006 of someone mentioning this alleged wedding curse?

So what the hell is the wedding curse? Apparently this is caused when you have a wedding the same year as a sibling or the same year a close relative died. If you violate this rule, you have a cursed marriage, misfortune and death will plague your life, and you and your loved ones are haunted by a ghostly flower girl. That's a pretty harsh fate for something so trivial but okay. I thoroughly enjoy the concept of the flower girl as she's more than a mere Asian ghost girl. She is a malevolent force that embodies the curse rather than an actual person. This abstract notion is unique to most Asian horror movies, and I applaud "Sukob" for thinking outside the box while still staying true to the formula. On top of that, the flower girl is creepy! She's always sprinkling dead leaves everywhere, wears an ominous outfit, and her presentation is near perfect. The lurking about in many scenes goes a long way for me in the same regard that Kayako is often just in the shadows. The only real drawback is the makeup effects were not sufficient when her face is finally revealed. Just some little girl covered in mud? Uhh, no thanks.

And this is why you don't get married...

The focus of the story follows Sandy and Diana who have been cursed, and they must figure out why and what is their connection to one another. Sandy is, of course, played by scream queen Kris Aquino who is still straddling that line between hot and not. The actors turn in respectable performances although there are still instances of over the top acting. They handle the intrigue and mystery quite well as we come to learn Sandy and Diana are actually half-sisters due to the cheating father. There is an ill-defined, and sometimes confusing, subplot with Sandy's neighbor who also suffered the curse, but that is meant to throw the audience off from the twist. The scares and appearances of the flower girl keep the stakes high as you know it's a matter of time before most of these characters bite the dust. All in all, the main story is presented interestingly and keeps you engaged and invested in what will happen next. My only concern is what did happen to all the victims? They supposedly disappear--off to Kayako-land I suppose--but this doesn't make a lot of sense. The ending was on the weak side, however, as it's essentially a pointless zinger that doesn't fit the film's context or make any sense. I'll just pretend that was a dream sequence.

A few other things worth mentioning are great special effects for a Filipino movie. The flower girl coming through the window and the flower girl's shadow walking along with Diana are especially noteworthy as both cool and well done. This doesn't mean there aren't a few laughably bad moments like when Brian dies, that pathetic dead guy at the church, and when Tessie gets it. OH NO...not Boots! The lighting was surprisingly good and the cinematography in general was a step above the typical bullshit that fills Filipino horror. As I mentioned in other reviews, that shit quality to the film actually enhances the atmosphere as it creates a dingy look to everything; it may be unintentional, but it works.

The last thing I want to go over are a few spitball ideas for a possible "Sukob 2." Honestly, it shocks me this never got a sequel just as I was shocked it took a decade for a "Feng Shui 2." So this movie establishes a lot of material to work with, and there is endless potential to explore. One avenue that could be taken is toward Helen and her wedding. The flower girl has a strange fixation on Helen's home that should be addressed. Helen's father died and he was a doctor--could the flower girl be connected in that way? I know I mentioned that it was best to keep the flower girl as an abstract idea, rather than the ghost of a real person, but this is just a suggestion. Helen's husband was said to be a foreigner; that opens up even more possibilities to explore. You could set the plot in a different country for limitless potential; you could even go horror/romance similarly to "Ring 0: Birthday." Do I dare suggest a team up with Hollywood? One way or another, I really think they need to explain the flower girl's presence at Helen's home, in whatever shape or form, as somehow setting the wedding curse phenomenon into motion. Another direction we could go with is exploring Joya's characters. Let's face it, this character served as nothing more than a plot device when there was a lot that could have been done with her abilities. Maybe she tries to figure out what causes this curse or the origin of the flower girl. Hell, maybe the curse is still going, and Joya and crew are still trying to stop it. And the best addition I could imagine: make the curse grow stronger with the emergence of a ghostly bride. Imagine some Natre or Kayako level shit wrapped in a dirty wedding gown. That would be freaky! Just make sure we get better makeup effects for the flower girl or keep her face permanently obscured in the shadows.

Let me reiterate that this is the best Filipino horror movie despite some flaws and missteps. The originality to the premise, unique antagonist, and outright scares are all wonderful. The mystery can be a tad predictable, but the pacing keeps you engaged to the end. The flower girl herself is creepy and intimidating even if the makeup effects are sub-par and unworthy of such a cool ghost. The actors turn in decent performances, and I have to give a shout out to my girl Boots! Though the film does end on a lackluster note, this doesn't detract from the ride up to that point. Overall, this is a severely underrated entry into the Asian horror market that I believe many fans need to check out.

Notable Moment: When the flower girl gets to Dale. The windows merging and the ghost creeping into the room was reminiscent of "Ring" but creative in its own right.

Final Rating: 7/10


Seok said...

Not really the best, but with only 11 film watch based on your review, I will say yes out of 11 of them, it is. A lot was saying its a ripped off probably because of the scares style directly copied from ringu. That's why its mostlt predictable. Plot is unique since its is connected with our cultural beliefs. But storywise, it is really shallow. And yes, we believe sukob here. Probably the filipinos you've talked to did not grow up here or not a catholic, which comprise the 86% of the population. This sukob superstition after all did came from catholic church weddings.
There are a lot of things that should be improved in filipino horror industries, that's a fact, but i'm glad they are constantly evolving. Also, not so fun fact about the ph movie industry which i saw in one of ur review asking why some so-so films gross more than those with sense, is because generally filipinos support the celebrity instead of the story. E.g. kris although not that great of an actress is considered as horror queen because all her horror movies dominate due to her popularity. There was even a period before that due to her popularity, you can see her face in most advertisement, media or print making her one of the top filipino tax payers.

villainsrule said...

I mean, there is a long-haired ghost girl, but she's presented differently than just a ghost of a girl--she's like a force to be reckoned with which I thought was unique. I'm not saying "Sukob" is going to blow people's minds, but it's a good watch for sure. I have seen much more Filipino movies than I've reviewed prior to starting the blog. For example I've watched like half the "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" sequels and shit like "White Lady." Likewise I've watched non-horror that bored me to death like "Nasaan Ka Man."

I've met a good amount of Filipinos all reporting to be Catholic...they claim they never heard of Sukob until the movie came out. Also, I still have yet to see an article online that predates the movie mentioning the folklore.

justjud333 said...

I can attest that the SUKOB superstition is true but the film is the exaggerated version. My uncle and aunt are not in good terms and decided to get married in the same year; coincidentally.

They both had simple weddings and did not let each other know about it. The first one to get married was my uncle and I think my aunt didn't care for the superstition that's why they pushed through with especially her being pregnant.

By the same year after their wedding, both my grandparents got sick and by the end of the year my grandpa died.

So I guess it is true.

justjud333 said...

There's actually 2 types of sukob

Sukob with weddings and with deaths.

You are not allowed to get married on the same year with your siblings, parents (renewal of vows) or get married on the same year a family member died.

It is said it will bring bad luck to your upcoming family or a loved one dying.