Saturday, October 22, 2016

Purgatoryo (Derick Cabrido, QCinema 2016)

Cut from the same cloth as the vastly underrated Cinemalaya film Oros, Purgatoryo takes another look at the use of unclaimed corpses for illegal gambling operations. Recent news about corpses piling up at funeral homes in Quezon City left me wondering whether illegal gamblers are ecstatic over the vast supply of corpses.

The film starts with a police officer hauling a bloodied corpse over to a funeral parlor managed by Violet (Bernardo Bernardo). The corpse is given a thorough cleaning and prepped up to look presentable. It will be the object of a faux wake by gambling operators. The elaborate set-up involves hiring people to act as grieving family members.

Card games sakla and sapaw are illegal although local police turn a blind eye over games played during wakes for humanitarian reason. Financial proceeds from the card games are a huge boon to destitute surviving family members.

If Oros amazingly shares the nitty-gritty details of a sakla operation, then Purgatoryo exposes nightmarish shenanigans at a funeral home involved in illegal gambling. A worker at Funeraria Jimenez rues having to work on the day of his romantic date with his girlfriend. He convinces the girl to have their tryst at the funeral parlor. The couple eventually make out inside the morgue. The horny male, left unsatisfied by his lover, turns his lustful eye on a naked dead woman.

I'm deeply impressed with the necrophilia scene from a filmmaking viewpoint. Is that a true female human being? I'm not sure if the naked woman is really a human being. It doesn't move at all just like a true corpse. In stark contrast, the initial scene involving the male corpse shows the actor breathing.

Indie filmmakers who insist on having lengthy shots of dead bodies almost always botch their scenes because eventually the stomachs begin to rise. When they check their rushes on small monitors, they won't see such movement but when projected on mammoth screens the slightest of movement is easily seen. What filmmaker Roderick Cabrido does with the female corpse is truly amazing. I’m stunned by it.

The film Purgatoryo is the second collaboration between Cabrido and scriptwriter Denise O'Hara. Their first film was the fantastic Kinaray-a tale Tuos. This time around, they are joined by fellow Cinemalaya regular Joseph Laban, who is also an Atenean just like Oros director Paul Sta. Ana. The two Ateneans have their own inside jokes. A criminal, a person of interest, or a crazed guy dons an Ateneo get-up or jacket in their films.

I described the film Purgatoryo as some sort of sequel to Oros because of their many similarities. Both films deal with the same subject. Both films star Kristoffer King. And, I believe, both films also share some film locations (Santa Ana location?). Even the lighting looks familiar.

The film has a few aces on its own though. The necrophilia scene is a tough act to follow. I also admire the embalming scene shot from the point-of-view of the corpse. The corpse is liken to a spirit held up in purgatory. It needs to be cleaned up and purified in order to get to the next level. The spirit benefits from prayers while the corpse needs the expertise of the funeral home employees. But, with sexual perverts on the loose, corpses at funeral homes are likely to experience hell on earth.

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