“Super Cop” Alano is dying, but not quick enough. The terminally ill policeman
will live long enough to see the apocalypse or something even worse in Dodo
Dayao’s cryptic and elliptical horror film, Violator
which screens as part of the 2015 New York Asian Film Festival.
is the end of the world and everyone feels lousy, but they do not realize how
bad things are yet. In a series of vignettes that initially appear unconnected,
we see Alano resign himself to his impending mortality, watch several of his
colleagues execute a drug dealer for sport, and witness a number of suicides.
Perhaps most distressingly, a mucho pregnant school teacher finds her classroom
is mysteriously empty, except for the corpse wearing a boar’s head. Perhaps it
has something to do with the Jonestown like cult. They also committed mass suicide,
but the grainy VHS footage Dayao presents leads us to wonder if another evil
agency was also at work.
when we are most confused, Dayao finally reverts to a traditional narrative
structure for the third act. The long teased super storm has finally made
landfall in Manila, stranding Alano and his problematic officers on their leaky
hilltop precinct station (#13, of course). However, the weather outside is the
least of their concerns. In their cell, the cops are holding an incredibly disruptive
teen, who gives every indication of demonic possession. Whenever he talks, it
leads to trouble.
how borderline experimental the initial two thirds of Violator arguably are, it is rather remarkable how effective his
locked-in-with-the-evil-one story arc turns out to be. It is reminiscent of
Stephen King’s Storm of the Century,
but grungier, more intimate, and less annoying.
is definitely the sort of film viewers have to hang in with, although you could
almost come in cold for the third act. However, recognizing certain figures
adds to the mounting unease. Frankly, it would not have killed anyone if Dayao
had tightened up the early sequences, but the cumulative wtf-ness of them all
is rather unsettling. It is not exactly a prime showcase for actors, but Andy
Bais is quite memorably haunted as Vic, the station’s old custodian and gopher.
Likewise, Reji Hidalgo makes a strong impression as the early roof-jumper. We really
don’t want to see her do it, but we’re powerless to stop her.
Even when borrowing elements from the V/H/S franchise’s playbook, Dayao
maintains a mood a profound dread. However, his cagey approach to story
structure gets a little tiresome. In a genre film, there comes a time to come
clean and confirm some basics regarding the stakes involved. Recommended
expressly for fully informed patrons of unconventional cinema, Violator screens Wednesday (7/8) at the
Walter Reade, as part of this year’s NYAFF.
Labels: Filipino Cinema, Horror Movies, Movie cults, NYAFF '15