Chapter:-One, Part Deux (Or, A Review of a Short Film by Arnold Arre)
Last night, I and a bunch of people hied off to the basement of Bonifacio High Street's Fully Booked to watch a film. No, not Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (which I still vehemently swear is one of the messiest and absurdly bad films I've seen all year- never mind the coolness of battling robots). We were watching a short film- an indie, first-time outing for local grafictionista Arnold Arre. Though known primarily for his graphic novels such as The Mythology Class, Trip to Tagaytay, Andiong Agimat and most recently, Martial Law Babies, Arnold has for some reason found that a filmmaking itch was bothering him. This project, Chapter:-One, is the result of him scratching it.
Running at about 27 minutes, the film centers on a writer (Sam Alapan) who suddenly and abruptly suffers that most dreaded of dilemmas- writer's block. Stare as he may at the glaring computer screen, no matter how many push-ups he does or magazines he browses through- he's stumped. It is at this moment that a knocking at the door rouses him from his musings. Once answered though, the doorway to his apartment is empty save for a brown envelope containing a DVD (no crappy out of date VHS tapes here). Perhaps making a big mistake you'd think anyone who has watched The Ring would never do, he watches the disc and starts a slow descent into unease, paranoia, fear and borderline madness.
The best thing I can say about this short little yarn is that Arnold accomplishes something that for the most part, eludes most commercial 'horror' or 'suspense' films in local cinema- he creeps you out. He is able to brew a sense of impending doom and expectation of something BAD. And he does it without fluff, without ever a wasted or unnecessary scene. The story starts, hooks you in, then ends. A story was told, and it does it's job pretty well for a film budget less than a fancy dinner at The Fort.
So what was Arnold trying to say? Was there any profound message or big theme like he often has in his comics?
Perhaps he was trying to tell us that, even in a world interconnected by the incomprehensibly complex yet incredibly mundane alternate reality that is The Internet where we are all in constant communication via vehicles like Skype, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Phlogs and Vlogs, in the dark and even more imcomprehensibly complex maze that is The Human Mind, we are all Ultimately Alone.
Or maybe he was just trying to tell a pretty creepy story.
Chapter:-One's cast is composed of Arnold's friends and college batchmates- most of whom were present at the screening, and includes Yours Truly in a very minor role. Perhaps I may be biased then, you may ask. Well, I never saw the completed film until that night, and I am an avowed critic of Arnold's stuff as much as an enthusiast. So probably. Or probably not. Anyway, the performances were mostly earnest and natural since Arnold's main direction was for everyone acting to just 'go with it', and thankfully no one really let their roles get away with them. Again, for the most part, everyone did their job without much fluff, and thankfully it worked. No theatrics, just acting real.
So to be honest, this isn't really so much of a review as it is a report of what happened that night. And what's to say other than Arnold, even this early, just may turn out to be at least as cool a filmmaker as he is a comic book creator. Now that he's extended his palette, who's to say what he'll come up with next (probably not another suspense film though).
Chapter:-One isn't or won't be screening in any theaters in the Metro, but look for it in indie film festivals or competitions, or perhaps showing at UP Fine Arts film showings or such.