No ghosts are needed when the monsters are real

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By Nickky F.P. de Guzman, Reporter

Movie Review
Directed by Yam Laranas

EVEN WITHOUT the ghosts in it, Metro Manila Film Festival’s Aurora is a horror story: a harrowing tale of human greed.

Starring Anne Curtis as Leanna, the film tells the story of a ship called Aurora which sinks off Batanes after it hits a huge rock.

Leanna owns an inn just few kilometers away from the shipwreck, which becomes a temporary sanctuary for the families who are looking for their loved ones’ remains.

Days later, a storm is about to pass Batanes. The families leave Leanna’s inn, but before leaving she’s told that they will pay her P50,000 for every dead body she finds.

Without any other source of income and with the moral obligation to help search for the remains, Leanna agrees to the deal. She seeks the help of the fisherman Eddie (Allan Paule) and her former lover Ricky (Marco Gumabao) to find the trapped bodies.

Aurora, like any typical scream-filled movie, has all the ingredients of a horror film: some noir scenes, chilling sound effects, and ghosts and spirits that appear out of nowhere. It employs few jump-scares that are aided by camera tricks and music scoring. Some of the special effects can pass but others don’t, like a huge wave that engulfs the ship, or the shipwreck ablaze. It takes major on-screen convincing that Aurora really did crash into a boulder.

But as mentioned, even in the absence of these, Aurora is a horror story, a disgusting tale of human greed.

As the narrative moves forward, the audience is told that Aurora sank because it was overloaded. If one had the money to pay for the ticket, they could come aboard.

The shipwreck’s sole survivor tells of his experience: they were in like sardines and the ship experienced mechanical difficulties. From the ship owner and the captain, to the coast guard and crew members, the culture of accommodating many passengers is the norm. “It’s business,” said the survivor.

Screenwriter Gin de Mesa has said that she was inspired to write Aurora by true stories of sea tragedies like MV Doña Paz. Aurora is directed by her husband, Yam Laranas.

More than the spirits in the story, it’s the business behind the disaster that is scary because this happens in real life. While there’s nothing novel in Aurora and its story, it’s good to be reminded of the lesson of avarice during Christmastime — and beyond.

MTRCB Rating: PG