Three nights ago I was at Trinoma Cinema watching the premiere of APT Entertainment’s newest horror flick – BANAL.

BANAL which is said to be inspired by true events talked about a group of friends who went on a mountain hiking experience during their class summer break and got into all sorts of trouble – all supernatural in nature – leading to the demise of some but not all of them.

I wouldn’t dare give you anymore details about the plot because it’s going to spoil the movie.

We watched the film together with the lead stars – Bianca Umali, Miguel Tanfelix, Andrea Brillantes, Taki Saito and Kim Last.


I know a couple of things about mountain hiking because I used to do this activity decades ago as part of our organization’s environmental program. The general rule as it has been for a long time is – “LEAVE nothing but footprints, TAKE nothing but pictures and KILL nothing but time.”

Anyway, here are a few more other things I’ve learned about mountain hiking after watching this movie:

  1. When the sign says KEEP OUT! It must be for a very important life-threatening reason, so unless you’ve got a death wish or investigating a crime in that mountain – then I suggest you do as the sign says.
  2. Bribing always leads to dangerous complications.
  3. When someone says this mountain is miraculous – be mindful that there is such a thing as FAKE NEWS. Also, mountains don’t make miracles – it’s the big G who does that.
  4. You’ll know who your true friends are when you’re lost in a mountain with no food and water.
  5. Never keep all your food supplies in just one bag.
  6. When you see weird twigs wrapped around trees in just one area – that’s not a trail marker.
  7. Never eat anything (fruit or animals) you don’t know in a mountain.
  8. Never start a fire in a mountain if you don’t plan to put it out after because that may cause a huge forest fire.
  9. When hiking up a mountain, please do make sure that it’s the right mountain.
  10. If you’re hiking up a trail for the first time, make sure that you have an experienced guide with you in the group. If that guide suddenly announced that he will not take you up further because he’s scared of the path – the wise will follow the guide.

My #5SecReview of Banal

I am a big horror fan and I have to warn everyone first that it takes a lot to scare me in the movies. I set a very high standard when it comes to horror films – I still believe that The Exorcist has not met its match yet.

With that said, here’s everything that I liked (and not) about this movie:

For starters, I really love the technical stuff. The night shots are magnificent and cinematography was very neat. Sound editing was superb – a bit over the top in some scenes but still pretty much awesome.

Scare tactics are not original but they’re okay. The usual play with lights and shadows.

All the actors did well individually but I did notice some flaw in building up the characters and their relationship with each other. There’s this awkward space in between the characters I just can’t put my mind into and it was also a painfully dragging start for the film that have not established anything of significance in the story.

I also felt that writers have not utilized some of the most promising characters in the story to its full potentials like the guide played by Lou Veloso, that corrupt Barangay Captain and that old woman in the mountain.

And as with almost all the horror flicks nowadays – both foreign and local productions – the story’s ending was a big let down.

For those looking for big scares, the two that’s worth mentioning are the ones that happened inside the cave and the tents. I did however had goosebumps in that scene early in the film when the old woman saw Bianca Umali for the first time and warned the group to discontinue their hiking activity.

For BiGuel fans, this movie did not fall short of scenes that will make you “kilig”.

BANAL is scheduled for regular showing in cinemas starting today, May 29.

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