235th Movie Review: Zombadings 1 – Patayin sa Shokot si Remington

Witty, Effortlessly Funny and Unequivocally Gay; a New Star Is Born

[toilalou, twalay, faucey]

Caution: spoilers ahead!

Awaaaard! Thanks to Director Jade Castro, Writer Raymond Lee and the rest of Origin8 media, we finally have our first zombie-themed movie in the Philippines, and a good one at that! The guys behind the film managed to combine a potpourri of genres including Comedy, Musical, Sci-Fi, Horror, and Coming-of-Age and molded it into a colorful yet ridiculous extravaganza full of incredible performances by up and coming and veteran actors!

Yes this is a gay movie, but the gayness executed here was neither weak nor strong which makes the film more enjoyable and less discouraging for the males who are interested in seeing this movie. Honestly, I was supposed to watch Contagion today, but after seeing the trailers near the theater I ended up tagging along with my sisters to catch this movie. And 100 minutes later I realized I was fortunate enough to watch this one in the big screen before I lost the chance!

At first glance, one may think that this would be the same old Filipino indie-movie victimized by pop culture, but it’s actually more than that. Zombadings 1 was conceptualized by a slew of talented writers and producers who aim to make indie films break into mainstream media. Fortunately, thanks to excellent word-of-mouth, it has become one of the most demanded indie films of the year making this one a certified critical and box-office hit!

The film is set in Lucban, Quezon where the Pahiyas festival is being held. It is the typical Filipino town which isn’t completely modernized and still shows hints of Spanish influence. The movie follows the story of Remington (Martin Escudero), a young boy who has a knack for identifying and blatantly taunting gays. One day, he spots a grieving gay (Roderich Paulate) and taunts him. Feeling insulted the mysterious gay  responds by saying that when Remington grows up he’ll turn queer just like him.

15 years later, the movie resumes with a serial killing that’s been the talk of the town for quite some time. What’s weird is that the victims have only been gay people who are either out in the open or hiding in the closet. While going to work Remington discovers a crowd of people surrounding yet another victim. Here he meets Hannah (Lauren Young), a beautiful young lady who returns to Lucban to take care of her mother (Eugene Domingo) after the death of his father. When Remington sees Hannah for the first time it was obvious that he felt love at first sight. At night, while taking a bath outside of their house, Remington is attacked by a Kapre-like dude wearing clothes you’ll probably see in an “entertainer”. Instead of killing him though, he wakes up in his bed and realizes that he’s been shaved from head to toe (you know what that means).

From the Inquirer: The story progresses with the disturbing attacks continuing. Remington, meanwhile, experiences changes from inside out. That is, he suddenly develops a liking for baby tees, half-naked guys and a strong attraction for his best friend Jigs (Kerbie Zamora) despite being fond of Hannah. Remington is convinced that the curse placed on him many years ago is already beginning to take effect.

Martin Escudero shines while playing two roles in the film. As he slowly turned gay, you can’t help but admire him and be amazed by the fact that he actually managed to pull it off. You can see his dedication and strong will to make his acting seem real. He even endured the whole kiss scene with Kerbie Zamora, the scene in which director Castro said was the hardest moment to shoot since both men are 100% straight. Even now I still couldn’t believe how great he was; and because of this I would definitely think that he’ll have a long career ahead of him.

The comic timing was impeccable! Somehow the cast was able to make the audience laugh at the right moment. And just when you thought it was about to get serious, they take us back to square one and make us laugh all over again. The best thing is that it all felt natural and nothing seemed forced.

However, I think that is the main problem of the movie. It never gets serious enough which makes the whole concept of the movie less admirable. I mean, the beginning was great and the whole “pagdadalaga” process was amazing, but the ending was disappointing and felt disjointed from the rest of the movie. Even if there isn’t a sequel, I still believe that they could’ve done better in wrapping up the whole thing. The film deserves it.

Also, people who expect a zombie-centered plot may be let down. And while I do agree that the movie was indeed funny, there never was anything scary about the film. Maybe it was the budget or something, but whatever it is, there was something missing.

Nevertheless, the film still displays the creativity of Filipino filmmakers and the ongoing cultural evolution in our place. It educates us not to discriminate our gay community and at the same time lets us aware of how big their culture has become to the point that they’ve actually invented their own language (Bekimon). Besides, how can you not enjoy the performances of the three young actors and the rest of the cast which also includes Janice de Belen, John Regala and a cameo by Marian Rivera?

Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington is one of the best Filipino movies I’ve enjoyed in a long time. And I’m saying this because I haven’t seen Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank. Even so, I still believe that thanks to these two movies our chances for an Oscar nod this year is high. I just hope it’ll get more recognition in the international scene.

Overall, the film is a certified Pinoy movie you’ll actually be proud to show off to the world, regardless of what it talks about.

GRADE: B+

Directed by Jade Castro

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