Around the World in 31 Days: The Philippines

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Seaside horror is going to have a resurgence. Robert Eggers, director of The VVitch, just released The Lighthouse. Another film (one I hoped to cover in this blog project), Cold Skin, also deals in coastal terror.

Where the land is adjacent to the cold, horror filled depths, that is fertile ground for nightmares. And Aurora delivered on those, although at times it is an uneven film.

Aurora (2018)
Director: Yam Laranas
Writer: Yam Laranas, Gin de Mesa
Notable Cast: Marco Gumabao, Mercedes Cabral, Allan Paule, Andrea Del Rosario, Phoebe Villamor, Arnold Reyes, Ricardo Cepeda, Ruby Ruiz, Sue Prado
Plot: The story follows Leana (Curtis) who lives peacefully in the island with her younger sister Rita. Everything changes when a ship named Aurora crashes near their vicinity. Rita has an ability to see dead people, but everytime she sees them, disastrous and catastrophic events occur. Leana must then protect the young girl at any cost before it is too late.[6] (source: Wikipedia)

Commentary: Here is the main positive of this film: Aurora is a beautiful looking movie. Filmed on an island in the region of Batanes, it has some visual compositions that are breathtaking. A shipwreck. Eerie phantoms, both in and out of the sea. The desolate landscape of the island. For mood, for moments, it is a treat.

And for frights, it actually delivers. The aforementioned phantoms are sometimes traditional ghosts, and sometimes, with weird and misshapen forms, they act more like demons. There is a degree of tension in their appearances and nature that will make you anxious.

Not all the horror is supernatural.

There is a side plot of a group of people, with whom Leanna becomes involved, working to recover loot from the shipwreck and its victims for their own profit. Leanna herself wants to leave the island and try her hand at life in Manila. This was thematically important, although it didn’t mesh well with the pace of the film and the haunting sequences.

What We’re Afraid Of: Aurora is in many ways a classic ghost story. The spectres are full of rage and vengeance, with every right to be so. As is revealed later in the film, the captain of the ship purposefully crashed the ship for some motive related to money. We’re then shown, through flashback/ghostly underwater vision experienced by Leanna and Rita, exactly what the passengers experienced: the horrors of being trapped in a deadly and disastrous circumstance; drowning and burning. It was harrowing and brutal. Economic need created this disaster and the subsequent disrespect to the memory of the shades haunting Leanna’s inn. Worth the watch for sure.


Chillerpop takes your questions and comments here on this blog, on his Facebook page, and on Twitter (@ChillerPop).

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