02 August 2006

Sukob (the wedding curse)

[You may not have watched the movie yet so I'm revealing the spoilers to a bare minimum and concentrate on my review]

The Filipino culture is rich with beliefs and supersitions, especially when it comes to highlights in one's life. The same is true with weddings. Aside from these:

- the bride-to-be should not fit her wedding dress,
- the couple should not see each other before the wedding day,
- the couple should be extra careful as they are more prone to accidents than ever before,

there is also something called Sukob. There are two kinds: sukob sa patay (death) and sukob sa kasal (marriage). The gist if the sukob belief is this: if somebody dies or if somebody gets married within the immediate family members, you have to wait for a full year before getting married or else misfortune will arise from it: be it loss of material possessions, divorce, or worse, death.

My wife and I had to follow the sukob belief because her brother got married within months of our planned date, and so following the advise of the elders we postponed it to more than a year later.

The misfortune that can arise from not heeding sukob was concretized in the movie with the same title starring Kris Aquino and Claudine Barretto. No sooner had Kris Aquino gotten married (of course following all the advice of their parents) than bad luck started following them, even involving their close relatives. A "happily ever after" story it's not.

They become baffled. especially since they did follow all the beliefs laid out before them. When they finally realize the cause, it was due to a big lie that was kept hidden from them for many years.

I watched the movie (along with an officemate who needed prodding because he preferred action movies over suspense thrillers) because I found a movie of a similar theme enjoyable. This was Feng Shui which also starred Kris Aquino and likewise directed by Chito S. Roño. Feng Shui was a play on Chinese superstitions and involved a charm that was supposed to bring good luck but instead brought with it a horde of ghouls and harm in exchange for the fortune it brought.

Sukob is even better than Feng Shui, with a twist that would keep you guessing where the malas (bad luck) is coming from. The scenes switch from one event to another, happening at that same time. A very effective misdirection is given at the early portion of the movie and slowly unravels the facts.

Like Feng Shui, it's not really a horror movie that will keep you awake at night. But there's a generous dose of startling sound effects and scenes though which keeps you at the edge of your seat.

In typical Filipino fare, the leadies kept screaming and giggles and hushed talks would ensue afterwards. I would normally get distracted at this juncture but I found myself grinning as well. It was fun. Yep, a fun, scary movie. I even got goosebumps in some scenes.

My companion consequently commented that this was even better than the movie Omen. I highly recommend this film for a night of goosebumpy, startling fun. Expect excited discussions with friends on supersitions and how the movie's twists worked out after watching.
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