Coming all the way from the Philippines is Roy C. Iglesias’ Sigaw (Echo), which was directed by Yam Laranas. The film will have its US debut at this years Screamfest LA in October. Sigaw looks like it was obviously inspired by Asian horror cinema and the incredible Japanese film Dark Water- only it’s not.
In Sigaw Bert (Jomari Yllana) moves into an apartment complex for a steal (always an indication it’s a bad idea). He spends every night with his hands over his ears as a family down the hall constantly bickers and fights- it sounds like it always ends badly. Eventually it comes to Bert’s attention that this family is ghosts ‘echoing’ or repeating the events from one night.
Yam Laranas has made a film that looks as if it reflects Japanese cinema. The color tone and set pieces look like they were shot in the same building as Hideo Nakata’s Dark Water. The rooms are a musty green and also have brown leaks developing on the ceiling. But what Yam has a major problem with is setting up his pacing.
An hour and 45 minutes for a simple ghost story, can you say OUCH? The movie doesn’t kick start into high gear until a whopping hour into it; It took me three tries to get to that point. The first hour Yam makes you think that not only is his apartment haunted, but there’s a cross story of the abusive family. By the hour point you find out that this father (who was a cop) killed his wife and kid in a jealous rage and the events from that night are repeated every day- hence the title ‘Echo’. Once we finally find out that they are all just ghosts, these apparitions also now know he knows, so they begin haunting him ten fold than the previous nights. He sees visions of the little girl covered in blood, and when Bert’s girlfriend explores his apartment, the ghost of the policeman beats the sh-t out of her- Bert decided it’s time to finally do something about it.
If Yam were to cut at least 20 minutes out of the first hour I might have enjoyed the movie a lot more. The acting was fantastic and the ghost sequences were done quite well. The only problem was that he spent so much time making this family real that when the ghost sequences came to the screen you just saw them as real people. The ghost story had become a drama, and I hate dramas.
It’s unfortunate the way the movie unfolded because I feel Yam had a gem on his hands. He created the perfect atmosphere, mixed in a fabulous score and had phenomenal actors/actresses. The story was also a perfect ghost story, especially if he was trying to emulate a Japanese horror film- only his construction was way over done. Build a small house with too many rooms and you’ll find yourself confused, annoyed and wondering “what’s the point?” The same can be said about Sigaw…