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Review: THE ENTITY (2019)

Erik Matti’s BuyBust was one of my favourite films of 2018. I was aware he’d done several horror films before that but hadn’t managed to see them. So when I had a chance to see his return to the genre, The Entity (Kuwaresma) I jumped on it. I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t expecting what I got.

It’s 1985. Luis Fajardo (Kent Gonzales) is attending university, studying engineering when his father Arturo (John Arcilla, Birdshot) calls. His twin sister Manuela (Pam Gonzales) is dead and he needs to come home for the funeral. Once home, however, things take a sinister turn. Neither his father nor his mother (Sharon Cuneta, Madam Chairman) will tell him how his sister died. A strange woman, Salve (Guila Alvarez) gives him a cryptic warning at the funeral. And then Manuela’s ghost begins attacking him.

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While trying to find out the truth about his sister’s death Luis uncovers more than he bargained for. Not only about his own past but that of the house itself.

Matti and screenwriter Katski Flores do a wonderful job of misdirecting the viewer as the story’s details are revealed. I was able to guess a few of the plot points. But The Entity had enough surprises to keep me off guard even when I was thinking in the right general direction. And that allows for much better scares than just pulling stuff out of left field.

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The Entity combines elements of The Haunting of Hill House, Hereditary, Insidious and The Shining to create it’s haunted house. And then adds a dose of commentary on Filipino culture into the mix as well. The result is creepy and at times actually unsettling. Especially in the second half as repressed memories begin to awaken And secrets are revealed.

At just under two hours long The Entity does run a bit long. Several of the scenes of Luis poking around in the house and such could have been trimmed back. And there’s a torture scene that runs a little too long and starts to lose its effectiveness. That’s one of a couple of wince-inducing scenes of violence in the film. Unfortunately, the reference to Carrie during the exorcism scene could have used some of those seen’s brutality.

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Those that dismiss any post-Romero genre films with social commentary as “woke shit” probably won’t like The Entity. It doesn’t beat you over the head with a message, but it’s easy to see what Matti is saying about his country’s obsession with hyper machismo and toxic masculinity in general.

If you can deal with that and the film’s length and pacing issues, The Entity is a worthwhile watch. There’s plenty of horror and a few good jump scares.

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