Tia Madre, a film written and produced by Eve Baswel for the Cinema One Originals Film Festival, is a distillation of a hyper-imaginative reality strategically told in a psychotic yet tranquil manner. Contrary to what was shown in the trailer, this is no horror film. It does have parts that will get one’s heart racing with fear and excitement then followed by a sense of relief—which are emblematic of watching something that is meant to elicit fear for entertainment purposes—but it is, in fact, an experimental homage to Cherie Gil and a sad representation of albinos.
The film predominantly serves as a montage of the idolatry of Cherie Gil. Audience members will witness Gil do all humanly ordinary things: sleep, drink alcohol, engage in sexual pursuits, take a drag of her cigarette, stand under a bathroom shower, rip her clothes out of anguish, and physically, verbally, and emotionally abuse her daughter, Camille, a character played by Jana Agoncillo.
Ultimately, the narrative imparts fabulous imaginings, as it is set in a remote province immersed in legends of local mythological creatures like the engkanto and dwende. Here, the malignant transformation of Emilia (Cherie Gil) unfolds as soon as she and her daughter Camille relocate to an old family ancestral house. While the film intends to become unfiltered terror, the more gripping quality is its portrayal of abuse. Perhaps this is where the real horror comes in: That such treatment and trauma can be created by what should be an intimate mother-daughter relationship.
Cherie Gil, Jana Agoncillo, Carl Palaganas, Raqs Regalado
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