Before I start with my short critique of Sanib, I would like to post my appeal to (most) Filipino filmmakers:
PLEASE stop insulting the audience by making photocopied films. We, the audience, are not stupid. We don’t want to see what we’ve already seen before. Please stop doing what Brocka, Bernal, and De Leon already did. Please stop copying other films, may it be a Hollywood classic, a hit Japanese horror movie, a French indie film, or whatever.
You are not a photocopier operator, you ARE filmmakers. And filmmakers cultivate their own ideas, so please do so.
We’re not here to experience deja vu, we’re here to see somethingauthentic. Please try harder to make bona fide films. Thank you in advance.
Celso Ad. Castillo, 2003
Do you know why most Pinoy horror movies are not scary? It’s because of films like Sanib. Sanib is derived from the word pag-sanib, which means possession in Tagalog. Sanib, the film, has no originality; it’s so predictable it loses its scare factor.
Sanib is a ridiculous and blatant attempt to copy The Exorcist. The Regan character is named Melissa. Regan, I mean, Melissa is a fashion designer. She’s engaged to be married to a character that almost seemed unnecessary to the film’s plot development. Knowing that Melissa’s about to marry this guy is enough. Do you really have to present her boyfriend like he’s a saling-pusa (occasional player)? The house of Melissa’s parents — does it really have to resemble a haunted house just to look scary? The house in The Exorcist does not look like a haunted house, but it looked scary.
It might have tweaked and tuned some things, but Sanib obviously borrowed a lot of elements from the 1973 classic:
1. A demon-possessed girl. (Do “possession” movies really need a girl as the possessed character? I want to see a possessed guy in a movie.)
2. A young priest and a not-so-young priest exorcising the demon-possessed girl.
3. During the climactic possession scene, the demon-possessed girl is clad in a white nightgown.
4. The demon-possessed girl is, of course, tied to her bed the way Regan was tied in William Friedkin’s film.
5. The demon-possessed girl’s make-up.
6. The young priest is tormented by the devil by bringing up his past; he blames himself for the death of his loved one (this time a son).
7. The mother is the only relative to witness the girl’s climactic possession. (Ellen Burstyn, is that you?)
Just like most Filipina actresses nowadays, Aubrey Miles is a gorgeous lady and an unconvincing actress. Her acting is kulang (incomplete). She looks like she’s performing in some high school play or something. For best results, acting should be treated like a religion; it should be done with faith.
Jesse Lucas’ music stands out; it’s the only thing I liked in this film. Sanib‘s main theme is reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith’s Ave Satani (The Omen‘s main theme). It’s a very good piece of music. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to make Sanib scary.
A celebrated Filipino filmmaker, Celso Ad. Castillo failed to do what Friedkin did in The Exorcist, which is to seduce the audience with subtle scenes, and then break their hearts with the (figuratively) head-spinning climax.
Sanib has no tension buildup (and I’m a sensitive audience). The film’s climax is disappointing and preposterous. What a lazy effort. Sanib is nothing but a second-rate, trying hard copycat of The Exorcist. In other words, Sanib is not worth watching. (Unless you have a lot of time to waste.)
DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended. I don’t own or claim to own any of the photos used.