ZOMBADINGS 1: PATAYIN SA SHOKOT SI REMINGTON (Jade Castro)
My hesitation with ZOMBADINGS before, is that it can easily fall into the mainstream cliches that people have become tired of, like over-the-top performances and what-have-you. Make no mistake. I am not talking about Roderick Paulate. His piercing stare alone elicits shivers. As the gay who cursed the film's main character Remington (Martin Escudero) early in the story, Paulate is highly effective; his iconic status in Philippine cinema and comedic talent bring credibility to the character.
ZOMBADINGS 1 starts off fine enough. A young boy pokes fun at homosexuals he encounters, until one of them hexes him, turning him into a homosexual when he grows up.
Fast forward to present time; a spree of killings victimizing gays abound the town of Lucban, Quezon. Remington is all grown up and masculine now. His mother (Janice de Belen) is a police officer investigating the murders. His father (the comeback role of John Regala) mans the eatery. There goes your role reversal.
Then Remington gets attacked by a faceless brooding creature; gradually, he becomes gay, first with his gestures, then his language, then his sexual preference.
Now he is torn between his best friend Jigs (Kerbie Zamora) and the girl next door Hannah (Lauren Young).
If we can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, ZOMBADINGS proves to be worth the while. It sure has loads of humor and snappy one-liners (Morayta lang 'yan!) and Martin Escudero is a revelation. The guy can act gay effectively.
You'd feel the amount of love and collaboration Raymond Lee, Michiko Yamamoto and Jade Castro poured in the script. Though cliches are all over the film (just look at how the film ends) the events in the story actually make sense. Except maybe why Eugene Domingo likes the roller blades. But we love her for that anyway.
For me the funniest moment of the film is when Remington tries to identify the objects inside the bathroom, and he unwittingly refers to them in gayspeak, signifying his transformation.
The gaydar is another winning element.
Under the surface, ZOMBADINGS really paints us a picture of the horrors of homophobia, and presents homosexuality as a part of our society that we must understand. The key lies in understanding. We fear what we don't understand, hence the killing spree.
There are pitfalls in the movie too. If the gaydar detects gays in proximity, then how come it didn't detect ________ early on? (I avoided the spoiler here in case you haven't seen it yet).
Oh, and Marian Rivera's presence isn't really necessary. Mailes Kanapi as the dim-witted cop is overacting, but not her fault maybe. We don't really have characters like that in real life.
ZOMBADINGS knows what it wants and pursues it. It feels retro (with the 80s and 90s actors and all) and mainstream at the same time (the narrative suffers from convention) but is still otherwise funny. And yes, there's a moral lesson on the sidelines, so there goes your genre movie with all its pros and cons.