It is not without flaws. In fact, questions will pop out of your mind instantaneously the moment you see those little loopholes in the film and in the story. Like, if the character of TJ Trinidad is really hell-bent on killing his enemy – their enemy, and if he, as he claims it, has tried all means of killing the aswang, wouldn’t he have already thought of that one way of purging them for eternity (cause it’s really simple and a no-brainer, especially if he watches Heroes – they have the same scenario for indestructible cheerleader Claire).
And also, that problem. They entire film’s focus is answering the question: How the hell are we going to kill the immortal aswangs? Patient X willingfully used the aswang mythos, and yet it totally discarded everything we already know about the aswangs – that they hate basically everything we put in adobo, that they can be killed if sunlight catches them in their aswang form, and if we believe Shake, Rattle & Roll 2, they can be killed by hitting them with jolens fired at them through slingshots (I thought this was the reason Christine Reyes gave Richard his childhood bag of jolens. But that could have made the film hilarious).
And Patient X is not hilarious. And that basically sums up the reason why we should all watch and support the film while we can. Patient X is a horror film. And we should be thankful, it was sold and presented to us as exactly that, and it lived up to its expecations with it’s credible horror form.
They could have easily mocked us with a Twilight angle. And thankfully, we did not see posters of the mortal Richard loving with the lady aswang in the story, which he, had a meaningful past with, and could possibly fall in love with. In fact, the posters of Patient X are probably the best among what we’ve seen so far locally – subtle yet suggestive, mysterious yet precise, intriguing and engaging. No need to line-up all the faces of the film’s actors in their shocked/scared look (see Shake, Rattle & Roll MMFF entries).
Also, Patient X is Rated R-13, a rarity in the genre in these times in this country. How many times have we been fooled by films pretending to be a horror movie, which will just turn out to be a family fare, complete with the comic relief and the “moral lesson” in the end. We laud Patient X for being brave enough to conserve the film’s and story, and not to compromise for the sake of wider viewership.
Patient X is not all bad. Yes, the support cast members all act better than the lead actor. Yes, there are scenes when Miriam Quiambao is all spazzy and jerky in one frame and then perfectly still in the next. Yes, the pack of aswangs is slow and stupid. But there was a sincere attempt of telling a unique story. The story may be imperfect, but it sure is beautifully told, visually, onscreen (noticed TJ Trinidad’s reflection on the bloody floor – yes, he will die, spoiler, sorry) – which is still the strength of director Yam Laranas. The music is haunting (which I think is missing in the musically stripped down THE ECHO, the SIGAW Hollywood adaptation). And the overall eeriness, of course, is always there, another Laranas signature. Fans of the genre may or may not enjoy the content, but will surely appreciate the form.
It is not every week that we encounter horror movies produced by mainstream studios (Patient X even has 2 plus RGutz which laughingly is like RPatz to Twilight’s Robert Pattinson), that think we will not watch the movie if not for the stars, the gimmickry (Although there were attempts to drum up Rgutz’ rescue of Christine at Provident Village, and Patient X’s set being haunted) or the comedy of it. We thank Patient X for respecting the audience. And that respect should be enough, for us to give the movie a chance, express our thoughts, and contribute in the making of something even better in the future.