There's something haunting in the visuals for Prime Cruz's upcoming Ang Manananggal Sa Unit 23B, an attention to art direction and lighting that makes it clear Wong Kar Wai's cinema of repressed desire is a major influence here. There is, of course, also something haunting in a very different way given that this is a fairly radical reimagining of traditional Filipino folklore.
For those unfamiliar, the manananggal is a creature straight out of Filipino nightmares, a blood sucking monster not entirely unlike a vampire - though not entirely like a vampire, either - and what Cruz is doing here is clearly an attempt to put a very grounded and contemporary spin on those legends.
Jewel is a mysterious woman who lives alone in the city. She has a secret which has led her to settle into a lonely existence. That is, until she meets Nico, a broken-hearted, down-and-out guy who also feels unlovable like she does. Jewel is torn between wanting to love him and wanting to save him from herself. Will he accept her if he knew the truth about her? Can she ever find love, or is she destined to be alone forever?
A dark romance built on traditional mythology? That's certainly a pitch that captures my attention, particularly when packaged up in a trailer as gorgeous to look at as this one. Take a look below.
Ang Manananggal Sa Unit 23B will premiere October 15th as part of the QCinema International Film Festival.