Director – Yam Laranas
Cast – Richard Gutierrez, Jomari Yllana, Iza Calzado, Angel Locsin, James Blanco, Ella Guevara
Release Year – 2005
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The Echo(Sigaw) was the last film I needed to see before beginning my work on a Top 10 Horror Movies of 2005 post, and although I basically had my mind made up over which films I was going to use I figured I needed to give this one a viewing due to the numerous positive remarks I had come across regarding this film. Because of those positive remarks I went into this Filipino watch with mostly high expectations, and was quite saddened when those expectations were not met. The atmosphere is there and it is obvious that director Yam Laranas is great at his camerawork, but this story never fully grasped my interest beyond measly levels and resulted in this film being a borderline-positive effort in the end.
Martin, a young man who savors his independence, moves into an old apartment building whose lack of tenants and decrepit look gives him just that. Soon after moving in his peace and tranquility is ruined by a family down the hall whose husband/father beats his wife and child over accusations of infidelity, but all is not as it seems in this spooky wayward complex.
I absolutely love supernatural films, and I know that some great horror films have come out of the Philippines (Feng Shui), so I really mean it when I say that I expected to enjoy this one. The story takes off quick, throwing in a few decent cheap but well-executed spooks early on, and once things get going and the wife begins asking Jude for his help the tension really rises when each desperate plea from her brings Jude further and further into a dilemma that he wants nothing to do with. I was a bit confused as to when/where the horror was going to kick in due to this piece coming off mostly as a drama about an abusive husband whose job as a police officer allows him to get away with beating his wife and daughter, but halfway through the film we are given the “twist” that I never saw coming – a twist that finally exposed the horror that had in fact been going on the entire time. While I was elated at the level of horror occurring before me, it never really manifested into anything other than a cliché ghost story that failed to continue “moving” and resulted in a final 50 minutes of stagnant pacing and a few scares. This really was a disappointment for me because the story had much potential to keep delivering some good horror, but as with many horror films the full potential was never reached.
Director Yam Laranas(The Echo remake) was quite fantastic in this piece, giving us amazing atmosphere that was dark, gloomy, and perfect for a supernatural effort – or any effort for that matter. Each of the sets used was great, although most of the film took place in the gloomy and quite creepy low-end apartment complex that Martin and Chris Brown, I mean the abusive husband, were residing in. He managed to use crafty camerawork and great execution in keeping the tension high, which occurred mostly during the scenes regarding the abusive husband and his wife’s desperate attempts to escape his wrath and not really the supernatural element itself. His execution provided a few decent chills here and there, although most of them were really unscary scenes that used camerawork and music to deliver the scare. Sadly, in the end we really were not given the scary and spooky film I wished to see – a sad note given Laranas’ obvious talent for this genre.
Overall, The Echo is a film that could have really been a solid and very effective horror film, but story-related issues resulted in a stagnant second half that held this film back from greatness. Yam Laranas’ direction was fantastic in his execution, which is the biggest reason why this film was such a letdown to me, because with a proper screenplay it is obvious that this man can do wonders behind the camera.