The Monster Chronicles: Tiktik Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
Released by Terracotta Distribution
Wirtten and directed by Erik Matti
2012, 102 minutes, Rated 15
DVD released on 24th March 2016
Dingdong Dantes as Makoy
Lovi Poe as Sonia
Joey Marquez as Nestor
Janie de Belen as Fely
LJ Reyes as Hilda
Dwight Gaston as Tonio
Remember the I for Invincible segment of ABCs of Death 2 (you know, where an old indestructible hag is burnt alive by her children for her inheritance)? Well that darkly comic contribution to the anthology sequel was the work of Filipino director Erik Matti, and if you liked that you’ll no doubt find penchant for his feature-length vampire-cum-home-invasion flick – just as I have.
Let me set the scene: Makoy tries to win back his pregnant wife by buying her a pig for her family birthday party, only to find out that the gypsies he bought it from are ‘aswangs’ (shape-shifting monsters in Filipino folklore) that are only after his newborn child for supper. And find out the hard way, he does...
It’s not just the first movie to pit monsters against a Stingray tail, but interestingly the first full-length Filipino film shot using green screen. And much like the overexcited teen that has just been given the keys to his first car, it goes to town with it.
It’s a collage of gorgeous CGI’ed landscapes and backdrops, some that mirror intricate pastel paintings, others that look like they belong in a graphic novel, and all of which del Toro (and Tarantino, come to that) would probably gush over.
Aesthetically, it’s nothing if not ambitious – Matti clearly set himself artistic criteria, and he manages to tick each box tastefully. Set mainly around the Sonia’s family farm, which can only be described as a moody, hellish version of The Wizard of Oz’s Kansas, reds punch out against gloomy greyscale backgrounds and sets darken menacingly as the aswang transform.
It sounds as funky as it looks too, with various walking synth lines building suspense, and the film’s highly-charged proclivity spurred on by what I can only guess are regional rock tracks, which if Tik Tik was ever remade in Hollywood, would undoubtedly be replaced by the likes of Guns N’ Roses’ Paradise City and Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train.
It’s not an easy one to shelve, Tik Tik is a cleverly crafted amalgamation of action, comedy and horror. What sets out very much as an ominous, pokerfaced horror soon turns bat-shit crazy as slo-mo fight sequences give flight to guts wrapped around pitchforks, hearts ripped from bodies and skin being torn off by teeth.
That’s fun – oh, so much fun – but behind the blood, guts and garlic, at the root of the limbfest, is the humane story of Makoy and Sonia that very much lies at its unashamedly heartfelt core. Matti cares about his characters and wants you to too, and it’s that inner beauty in the storytelling that, despite sharing the spotlight with over-the-top scenes of limbless bodies fighting one another, really manages to touch a nerve.