A fresh take on formula by an intelligent director with an enthusiastic supporting cast and an excellent portrayal by a comebacking actor.
That is how I would describe Joey Reyes’s Kutob (literally, “hunch”).
Casting my biases against Rica Peralejo (watch the execrable Tatarin from another year’s filmfest and you will understand why) aside, I went to watch Kutob on the last day of the year and I came out quite satisfied and pleased. Sure, the plot is quite familiar, formulaic even. It’s lifted almost purely from Hitchcock’s Psycho with a smattering of the teen slasher flicks like I know what you did last summer, Halloween and Urban Legend but the direction is so crisp and the characterization so good that you forget about the dubious pedigree of the plot soon enough.
Marvin Agustin, as Lemuel, displays great acting chops as well as a revamped body as Rica Peralejo’s stalker. His characterization is very deep and his essaying of the role of the stalker is so rich; even as early on, you know its going to be him, you still continue to watch—transfixed not only by how he registers on screen (quite good) but also by how he carries the role (excellently). Largely because of him. the formula becomes fresh and Joey Reyes is to be credited with this.
Liza Lorena as the aunt is so good! The role could have become hammy but she does so well without any irritating acting tics that you forget any comparisons with Psycho.
The supporting cast is first-rate. Alessandra De Rossi is always excellent and she does not disappoint here; she is the 2k Suzanne Gonzales and Cherry Pie Picache, i.e., actors who portray the proverbial “best friend”, and is the perfect foil for Peralejo. Even the normally bland James Blanco is good. Ryan Agoncillo, who is “introduced” in this film, appears not to do much acting simply because the image of the character he plays is so similar to his television image but he acquits himself quite well. Others in the cast are the ever-reliable Anna Capri and the two very striking “victims”, Andrea Del Rosario and Pamela Nieva—both of whom not only project well on screen (particularly Nieva; where’d she come from?) but also display very understated acting.
Significantly, it is Peralejo who doesn’t do much. She enjoys top billing and the film does revolve around her but somehow you get the impression that her role could have been played by just anyone and you would get the same performance.
Reyes’s direction is tight and the pacing quite good. My only technical complaint is that Jaime Fabregas’s otherwise excellent score tends to get too obvious, particularly in the “scary” parts. It might have been better to have absolute silence before the gory parts, the better to elicit screams.
But these are small flies in the otherwise excellent ointment that is Kutob.
Don’t waste time on fantasy this MMFF, the reality portrayed so excellently in Kutob is time and money better spent.