The thirteenth installment of Shake Rattle and Roll presents its staple trey of horror with a bid to tackle substantial themes. As the film maintains its sleek, glossy cinematic shots seen in the preceding ones, this year’s SRR offers stories that do more than creep one out.
Tamawo, the first episode, depicts the man versus nature conflict. At the center of Richard Somes’ film is a poor family who moves into a secluded home in the middle of a bucolic town in the hopes of starting life anew.
Oblivious of the supernatural creatures that inhabit the area, the family comes in contact with the tamawo— mga nilalang na tinanggihan ng langit, or beings condemned by the heavens.
Although the plot weakly establishes where the creatures came from and why exactly did the heavens shun them, it is comprehensible that the tamawos represent a sacred part of nature.
At the beginning of the film, a prologue shows a man burying a crystal egg that apparently was stolen from the tamawos. Where? Under the very flimsy house made of wood that the family moved in.
The family, composed of Allan (Zanjoe Marudo), Isay (Maricar Reyes), Pikbo (child actor Bugoy Carino), and a months-old baby, are struggling to survive poverty— although, again, the narrative fails to determine where they come from and why they had to move from their previous home. Allan, as the patriarchal head of the family, is a bellicose, ill-tempered man who shows the slightest affection for Pikbo.
Allan is harsh on Pikbo because the child was fathered by another. It is obvious that Allan is possessive of Isay who is gentle and loving towards Pikbo. Another theme that Tamawo plays out is greed— something that blinds Allan the moment he discovers the crystal egg under the hut.
His possession of the crystal eggs further earns his family the ire of the tamawos thus the creatures haunt and harm them.
Pikbo is depicted as a wise and courageous boy who learns of the tamawos from the “wise” woman of the town (Celia Rodriquez). When he becomes aware of the fact that tamawos are after their family because his stepfather holds the crystal egg, Pikbo attempts to sneak it out of their home to save his mother and his baby brother.
In the final scenes where Pikbo almost hands it to the tamawos (unbelievably fearless of the pale white, long-haired creatures), Allan tries to get the crystal ball back. “Tay! Sa kanila ‘yan!,” Pikbo shouts. During the fight, the egg is accidentally knocked over and broken, which leads the tamawos to kill Allan.
“Lahat ng bagay sa mundo sa inyo na. Ito na lang yung amin!”— yes, the tamawos speak perfect Tagalog. As the creatures demand for the egg to be replaced by Allan and Isay’s baby, Pikbo asks that the tamawos take him instead.
The act of selfishness obviously contrasts likewise compensates Allan’s misdeed. In the end, Pikbo is taken by the tamawos, perhaps signifying the oneness of nature and mankind likewise depicting the balancing act of nature.
Parola, the second episode, depicts the theme of friendship and betrayal. At the heart of the story are two childhood friends Shane (Louise delos Reyes) and Lucy (Kathryn Bernardo) whose sisterly bond undergoes a trial after an eerie incident at an ancient lighthouse where their class went to for a field trip.
The narrative, while it presents Shane and Lucy as the best of friends, also reveals the weak spot of their friendship—Bryan (Sam Concepcion) who is in love with Shane, which is unfortunate for Lucy who he is in love with Bryan. Although forbidden, Shane and Lucy go up the lighthouse, oblivious of the fact that two rival witches (played by Dimples Romana and Julia Clarete) once died in it while in a duel.
Like Shane and Lucy, the two witches had quite a friendship that turned sour over jealousy. The two witches, awakened by the intruders, start to possess Shane and Lucy and manipulate the two girls to relive their rivalry.
The two witches take advantage of the predicaments in the two girls’ friendship— the love triangle they are both involved in and the rivalry between Lucy and Shane’s mothers.
A subplot is revealed: after the death of Shane’s father, her mother has an affair with Lucy’s father. As Shane and Lucy are taken over by anger and jealousy, maliciously instigated by the witches, they end up going back to the lighthouse where they end their lives.
Their bond prevails however, as the two friends find the heart to forgive each other at the last minute where the curses and spells are bound to kill them. Jerrold Tarrog’s film, Parola, presents a more cohesive plotline than Somes’ Tamawo.
It is noteworthy to mention that the casting of Maricar and Bugoy as mother and child in the first episode made for an effective acting, likewise Kathryn and Louise as friends turned enemies.
Rain, Rain, Go Away by Chris Martinez perhaps presents the most complex plotline of the three episodes in SRR13.
The narrative depicts the life of a couple Cynthia and Mar (Eugene Domingo and Jay Manalo) wealthy factory owners who long to bear a child.
The night after the typhoon Ondoy caused tragic deaths and damages in Metro Manila— coincidentally the night of their anniversary— Cynthia undergoes a miscarriage.
Days after the tragedy, Cynthia is haunted by her nightmares. Her dreams take her to the factory, flooded, each time with a casket floating towards her.
The casket foretells the death of the very people she loves including Mar. The narrative builds the suspense as the audience figures out with Cynthia the root of the haunting.
At the end of the plot, it is revealed that the factory owned by Cynthia and Mar recruits minors who work during the day and are locked up at night.
The minors died of drowning as they were locked up in a cellar on the day the Ondoy tragedy befell Manila.
If anything, the third episode succeeds not only in leaving one perturbed by the poignant images of the minors being drowned but as well succeeds in delivering a truthful story on injustice and the iniquity of those at the bottom of social stratification.