Yam Laranas’ low-budget psychological thriller may be heavily influenced by commercial Hollywood thrillers. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but the neat, unpretentious, and well-crafted narrative will hook you from start to finish.
Rachel Rivera (Tippy Dos Santos) finds herself locked in a psychiatric hospital. Doctors tell her she’s not who she claims to be. As Rachel escapes and searches for answers, the film inserts events from the past, dropping little clues to tease and challenge you to solve the mystery.
All you know is that Rachel is a troubled teen, popping pills and seeing a shrink for hallucinations, guilt, and anxiety over her comatose father.
Laranas melds together familial drama, mental disorder, elements of nightmare and violence, with a little touch of surrealism to create an unpredictable mystery with engaging clarity. And Dos Santos gives an effective performance as a confused and terrified teenager; her bewilderment, despair and fear are subtle and quietly explosive. Her hair is just distractedly too fake. Some kind of sunset yellow.
The English-language film does not evoke fear but provides an engrossing mystery, and Laranas expertly navigates the camera to capture the mood and the sense of nightmare; his lens conjuring an atmosphere of strong depersonalization.
Although some of the elements are familiar and incredulous (would a rapist admit to raping someone if you ask him?), the story is satisfyingly unpredictable.
Overall, “Abomination” is enjoyable. Nothing spectacular or groundbreaking or subversive. But it entertains with its solid and unpredictable story and competent performances.
3 out of 5 stars
Sinag Maynila Film Festival: March 7 to 15, 2018, in select SM Cinemas