Upon seeing the poster and trailer for Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang, one is not sure if the film is a drama, a love story, or a horror flick. The movie is all of these things, but as it turns out, it’s sort of a comedy as well.
Corazon (Erich Gonzales) is a tormented girl ostracized by the taong-bayan of a post-WWII hacienda. Save for her tougher-than-bones husband Daniel (Derek Ramsay), she is the center of chismis and persecution for being the daughter of the resident town whore. When she isn’t befriending the local taong-grasa (who we assume is her mother) she is plagued by the fact that she isn’t able to give her husband a child. So she resorts to spiritual help. And the result is tragic.
She goes to a mystical woman (a weird Maria Isabel Lopez) that gives her the statue of a saint. She is asked to bring it somewhere special, stay there alone for two weeks, and pray her womb becomes fruitful. So she does. She returns to the loving arms of Daniel and the two have the inevitable sex-in-a-batis scene (best scene, hands-down). The couple becomes pregnant, but when Corazon delivers, the baby is a stillborn.
She goes mad, curses God, and transforms into an aswang as she eats the dead fetus of her own flesh and blood.
It may sound gruesome, and it is, but the problem with this movie was it wasn’t really sure what it wanted to be. It was short of a tragedy, lacking in consistency as a period piece (we don’t think Ramsay’s tattoos were 1946 appropriate), not really hair-raising, and lacks tension for a horror flick.
And Erich, please stay away from bad wigs and freaky makeup. We're proud to report though that there was definitely chemistry between the two protagonists.
The good news is the cinematography was amazing. The hues used are a splendor to the eye. Each shot of Gonzales’ serene beauty and Ramsay’s chiseled cheekbones are framed with a soft sincerity. But sadly, not even picturesque cinematography could save the confused plot. The tone shifts uncomfortably, making the audience lose grasp of a certain emotion trying to be evoked by a particular scene, making it kind of funny.
The supporting cast was a bevy of character actors. Acting vet Mark Gil plays a stern haciendero, Mon Confiado and Epy Quizon bring a little laugh here and there, and Tetchie Agbayani was the closest thing to anything horrific that the film had to offer. But again, they were under-used. This was obviously a vehicle for Gonzales and Ramsay.
Ramsay is highly commendable as he is more than a scene-stealer. He commands the screen and his bravado is anything but cheesy. Daniel’s character was the single-most convincing player in this horror tragedy. Someone give this guy more creative projects because he sure can handle it.
Gonzales on the other hand was not as effective. Perhaps she was miscast. Perhaps horror isn't for her. Perhaps, it isn't time yet for Erich.
The movie had a lot of potential, but all these things—not to mention the horrible voiceover at the end— did not allow the movie to fly. Better luck next time.
IMAGES TAKEN FROM OFFICIAL CORAZON: ANG UNANG ASWANG TRAILER