The newest horror movie by Philippino director Erik Matti (“BuyBust” 2018) deals with a whole bunch of different topics. The story is pretty simple though.
Luis (Kent Gonzales) left home to study at an engineering school. One day he receives a call from his parents. His sister has died, and he should return for the funeral. Back home, Luis tries to uncover the circumstances of her death, but no one is willing to give an answer. Right from the start, the viewer is introduced to supernatural elements. A demonic haunted house and a dark past that holds a tragic family fate are the ingredients that make up the typical horror stylistics of this movie.
“The Entity” is dominated by the past. The events that take place are all related to bygone incidents. The entire house and its surroundings are covered in fog, all the time. Evil spirits announced by eerie choir chants crawl around the house. The sound design is very effective. As Luis gets more and more confused by the secret that somehow changed his family during his absence, our vision gets blurred. The cinematography adopts his sight by only focusing on the middle of the screen, not showing the details of the edges, which leads to a trance-like state. This trance is interrupted multiple times by pretty cheap jump scares. Since I am not a promoter of this technique, Erik Matti ruined the movie for me at this point.
The metaphorical meaning of the story, its horrors and demons are diverse. Matti tries to fill the stereotypical haunted house plot with too many topics. Gender, masculinity, religion, and politics are scrambles around in a confusing way. In the first place, “The Entity” is about toxic masculinity in reference to the military past of the Philippines. Portrayed by the excellent performance of John Arcilla (“Heneral Luna” 2015) as the father, who leads the family with patriarchal strictness, the dichotomy between strong men who suppress women is laid down very obviously. This “feminism in your face” makes it kind of predictable and the movie does not hold much more in this regard except for an irrational plot twist that misses the target.
The political undertone that worked perfectly in Matti’s “On the Job” (2015) is only broached a bit. Besides that, there is the repetitive pattern of the long lost son, who is far away from his family to ensure a better future. As in many other Filippino movies, family and social rise are often a major part of the narration. In “The Entity” this somewhat collides with the gender aspects. Unfortunately, they cannot congregate in harmony. As much as Erik Matti is an important political commentator in his country, “The Entity” overstates certain aspects of the plot and tries too hard to force its message onto the viewer. In terms of genre stylistics, the movie is not very innovative, but uses the established elements of the industry very well.