Cinemalaya review: Coleen shows off the range in ‘Kaluskos’

Coleen Garcia in “Kaluskos”

Rebekah (Coleen Garcia) was busy with her corporate career, while her husband Jay (Karl Medina) stayed home to care for their daughter Amaya (Queenzy Calma). When their marriage broke up, Jay went to live with his mistress Azel (Cara Gonzales) as he and Rebekah fought for custody of Amaya. To complicate matters further, Rebekah was offered a promotion to work in Norway.

Amaya was not particularly close to her mother, which made her difficult for Rebekah to deal with at home and at school. Amaya liked to wear a strange mask with a beak and constantly complained about wanting to stay with her father. One night, after Rebekah tucked Amaya in to sleep in her bed, she saw yet another Amaya under the bed, who said she was hiding from monsters.

From the start, there was a predominant water theme – a boat, pouring rain, a bathtub – but these led nowhere. The plot of the film had nothing even remotely to do with water – no boat sank, no one drowned. Therefore, all these scenes were only there to establish an atmosphere of dread, nothing more.

There were scenes where a character was able to do incredible feats of strength, like single-handedly carrying a wooden bed frame from the basement, breaking the fall of an overweight child who tripped over a roof, or ramming a dead adult body in a vertical drumming. These details, while likely minor, can distract from the vision and logic of the movie as a whole.

On the other hand, there were also scenes which were beautifully executed by the director Roman Perez Jr. One of these scenes is the one where there were two Amayas seen simultaneously at the same time, a most surprising and critical scene which has set the plot in motion. The library scene where Jay was trying to appeal to Rebekah’s better senses was well written because well shot, the best scene for Karl Medina here.

I wanted this mother-child story not to end with yet another bloodbath at the Grand Guignol, as was the frequent end of several Vivamax films. In my opinion, there was an earlier scene of Rebekah and Amaya happily snuggling for the first time that could have already been a perfect ending. The decision could have been to go for a softer, more subtle ending, but again, the flashier, bloodier option won out.

Like it or hate it, this film proves that Coleen Garcia is a good actress and that she can carry an entire film on her shoulders. The role of Rebekah was practically a one-man show for her to showcase her full range of dramatic chops. It might even have been a better acting vehicle if she hadn’t had to run around wearing bloody lingerie in the climax.

This review was originally posted on the author’s blog, “Fred Said”.