The Road (2011)
To say The Road feels like a “Hollywood scary movie” may be more of a compliment to the people of Tinseltown than the other way around. This is because although the plot of this new film by Yam Laranas may be more convoluted than early-morning diarrhea for the kind of market the Philippine cinema actually has (let’s face it people, otherwise Praybeyt Benjamin should have just miserably flopped), the effort given to make such film raises the bar of what makes a scary movie this side of Planet Earth. Even the opening credits leaves a lot of room for the imagination and that is something I always appreciate in every movie I get to watch.
I first saw the trailer of this movie before this year’s Halloween. To be honest about it, after knowing it was directed by the man behind “Sigaw,” my initial interest to watch the movie disappeared like some ghost or something especially since they failed to ensure it gets released during that long weekend commemorating All Saints and All Souls Day. I was pretty sure that if only they were only able to release it at that time, the movie would have succeeded both critically and in terms of revenues just for the fun of it.
However, I ended up watching The Road on that fateful day the names “Mo Twister” and “Rhian Ramos” trended on Twitter. And as the supposed abortion scandal unravelled tweet after tweet, I experienced a kind of scary movie not usually offered by less risk-taking producers or directors from our country. This is the road less traveled for the Philippine Cinema, and to quote Robert Frost, “that has made all the difference.”
Before I go on and be criticized by, uhm, “critics,” I will gladly point out that the plot of the movie is not unique. But through the myopic eyes of someone who hardly recognizes the teen stars who portrayed the main roles of the film, I must say it had its toll on me since it dwelled on the kind of horror that people would not speak about. I am not talking about ghosts, or ghouls, or roads that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I’m not talking of insanity, corpses, or misguided religion, or the fact that I am also unsure myself if the movie is really just psychological or if the portrayal of ghosts in the movie were bordering on the “it’s actually happening!” Although I initially braced myself for a movie that would scare the wits out of me because of bad acting, what I am pinpointing is the kind of role model that the character of Carmina Villaroel had on a fragile mind of a young boy. This is rather surprising for me especially with all the Selecta and Lactum TVCs I’ve seen with her motherly face on it.
As an avid fan of TV series like Criminal Minds, I am quite aware of that belief that serial killers only exist in American Culture. That may or may not be true, given I am not a Grissom or a Langston or a Gideon or a Rossi, but the thing is, even if Andrew Cunanan and our country is not included in this Wikipedia list of heinous murderers, the way the human mind can play its trick on you, in my personal opinion, does not judge by the color of one’s skin. As such, the usual debate about nature and nurture comes into play.
This is why seeing Carmina Villaroel’s character psychologically (and sometimes physically) torture that kid in The Road really made me feel that if it not for her role, this movie would have had its share of shelf space with the recent installments of Shake, Rattle, and Roll categorized as “All-Time Lame.” What I also love about The Road is how they presented it is the “reverse timeline” order ala Irreversible that did not emphasize on the horrors, but on the reason behind the horror. I think that’s more shocking with respect to th film, if you ask me.
This is why, although I am not altogether convinced that Rhian Ramos did commit abortion just because of a video (inasmuch as I think GMA and Piolo Pascual deserves a benefit of a doubt before something tangible surfaces out of nowhere,) I have to tread softly on the concept of abortion as I write my thoughts about this film. Some people and their misguided beliefs consider abortion as way out of responsibility. I’ve even heard one actually say it’s better that way than to bring someone into this world that you cannot properly take care of as a parent. Of course, that presupposes not considering a lot of other options such as the controversial Reproductive Health Bill or, simply (simply?) not having sex at all.
However, what I think is even worse are the kind of parents who think they own their kids ala Like Water for Chocolate or the instances wherein certain fathers or mothers seem to have lost the essence of parenthood which is love. I am not saying between bad parenting and abortion, the latter is the better route to take. All I’m saying is in life, some accidental mothers are not Juno, and if they end up raising kids at a pace that would even put Sam Dawson or Time Magazine’s Top 10 Worst Fictional Fathers to shame, it’s still like killing them day by day by day.
Nothing is scarier than bad parenting. Even with the risk of getting the ire of the most controversial person on Philippine radio, I can never imagine Mo Twister as a father, more so, a responsible one. Heck, even the self-righteous people who are still against pre-marital sex can turn the tables around and throw the book at him. But then again, supposing, the abortion issue is actually true, we’ll never know won’t we, at the very least, not with respect to that “3 1/2month old child.” Some people would say abortion is the road less traveled, but if you take a look at the over 90 million Filipinos, around 33% or more of which are living below the poverty line, I believe that road not taken is the path to responsible parenthood.
It’s just weird that the movie poster of Yam Laranas’ movie screams the tagline “Nobody leaves.” Given that Mo Twister is saying adieu in the midst all these accusations, I guess we’ll never know the real story, won’t we? They say a real man sucks it up and ultimately becomes a provider. Nobody leaves. Or to put it bluntly, nobody points fingers, and then leaves.