“Jump scare” has been the thing in many horror films in the last 10 years or so. Cats pouncing from out of nowhere, scary faces leaping almost right out of screen… get it?
Well, it may be effective, but some filmmakers eschew the technique for another that instead, leaves viewers disturbed and mystified.
Design to do just that is “Aurora,” an entry to the 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF). The movie stars Anne Curtis, with Yam Laranas as director.
At a press conference, Anne claimed “Aurora” is not your-typical-horror-film.
Rather, it’s “elevated horror.”
“It’s actually funny because when we were shooting the film, I asked Direk (Yam), ‘Am I not going to scream?’ It turned out I didn’t have to because it’s all about the feeling, the twists and all – plus we have very good cinematography,” said she, whose favorite horror film is “Jaws.”
Director Yam pointed out “Aurora” is a story-driven film.
“It’s like, it will scare you yet you’re excited, interested to see what will happen next,” he shared. “The film is very quiet, no screams and whatnot. It’s subtle, very different.”
Over a thousand passengers perish when a passenger ship named “Aurora” collides into a rocky shore. Many of the dead bodies turn up along the shore of the tiny island near the shipwreck, but many are still missing, and their distressed families are in need of a place to stay in as the search continues.
In it, Anne is Leana, owner of a rundown inn in the island and guardian to Rita, her eight-year-old sister, played by Phoebe Villamor. She is asked to help look for the cadavers in exchange for a large amount of money. Leana is hesitant, but her fear is overcome by her sympathy for the families and her sister’s encouragement.
Helping her in the search are her ex-boyfriend Ricky, played by Marco Gumabao, and a boatman named Eddie, played by Allan Paule.
Though they are willing to brave the strong waves and murky waters, will they have the heart to face whatever awaits them deep in the ocean? Can Leana protect her sister when the dead find their way home?
Story of survival
When Yam first read the script, he had one name in mind: Anne Curtis.
“I texted her and she asked me to send the script. After three days, she replied with all caps, ‘GAME!,’” he shared. “From the very beginning I knew the role was really for her. I’m glad it fell into the right place.”
Yam even lauded her for being an “excellent actress,” relating how she refused to have a double.
“This film was tough one for Anne. She needs to portray like she’s a strong woman because this is a story of survival. She’s the only actor that has been visible in every scene. She’s the main anchor of the story that the audience needs to follow,” he said.
Anne, on the other hand, shared the most challenging part in doing the film.
“There was this scene that they pour water on my face. It was really hard. Also, when I did the swimming scenes because the water of Batanes is so different. It has current,” she shared.
“Aurora” was shot in Batanes, and Anne said it was “amazing 15 days of my life.”
Box-office hit or award?
Anne and Yam are not new to MMFF.
She joined the festival in 2008 with the film “Baler,” where she also won Best Actress. Yam, on the other hand, was in the 2004 horror film “Sigaw.”
“It’s always an honor to be part of the festival,” he said when asked about his return.
Anne, on the other hand, shared “Aurora” was the first chosen script of the MMFF Execom.
“We were thrilled when we heard that. And of course, I have so much faith in this film. It’s of high quality,” she proudly claimed.
Asked to choose between box-office hit or awards for the film, Anne said “both.”
Yam, on his part, expressed his confidence the actress can snag the best actress trophy again.
Anne’s “Aurora” is up against “Fantastica,” which stars her good friend. It’s just a friendly-competition, she noted.
“In fact, we help each other out to promote our respective films,” she smiled.
This early, Yam revealed they have plans of bringing the film abroad. What about on Netflix, noting that Anne’s “BuyBust” is now showing on the subscription-based streaming site?
“Any opportunity that would bring us to a bigger audience, we would take that. Any chance that would allow a lot of people to see Anne Curtis’ versatility as an actress, that’s a fantastic thing to happen,” he said.
Produced by Viva Films and ALIUD Entertainment, “Aurora” hits cinemas on Dec. 25.