Hot on the heels of its successful run at the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival where it ranked as the only consistent blockbuster nationwide, Erik Matti’s acclaimed horror thriller, Seklusyon, Director’s Cut, rated R-16 by the MTRCB, re-opened in limited cinemas last Saturday.
Also known as the film’s international release, the Director’s Cut is the original version that drew rave reviews from various Hollywood publications, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety after its well-received world premiere at the International Film Festival & Awards Macau (IFFAM2016).
Calling the film “a grainy, gory parable about the triumph of evil,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Clarence Tsui wrote, “[‘Seklusyon’] drips with a ferocity about how false messiahs manipulate meek minds who, as the film’s finale suggests, then propel even more malicious pretenders onto the pedestals of power. The film is Matti’s call for an awakening, and it certainly stirs with spine-tingling moments aplenty.”
Meanwhile, Maggie Lee of Variety notes, “The film is veteran Filipino genre director Erik Matti’s skillful reworking of the Omen conceit, in the elegant, nostalgic style reminiscent of Spanish horror films like The Devil’s Backbone. Seklusyon recalls the hushed horror of Matti’s earlier ghost mystery Pa-siyam as both draw on Christian orthodoxy and indigenous superstitions to unmask human hypocrisy. Here, the film’s sardonic denouement hints at what’s at stake for democracy in our so-called ‘post-truth generation.’”
Matti says his version of Seklusyon delves further into the relationship between Anghela Sta. Ana, the mysterious child with miraculous healing powers played by MMFF Special Jury Prize winner Rhed Bustamante and the equally enigmatic Madre Cecilia portrayed by MMFF Best Supporting Actress Phoebe Walker.
The Director’s Cut also further expands on the backstory of Madre Cecilia and her particular effect on one of the deacons, Fabian played by young actor, Dominic Roque.
Shot with a modest budget of P25 million, Seklusyon is both a commercial and critical success at the MMFF. The film went on to gross nearly P100 million at the box office and consistently ranked no.2 among top-grossing films in Metro Manila and in the provinces.
It also won the most number of awards in the MMFF with a total of eight honors that also includes Best Screenplay (Anton Santamaria), Best Cinematography (Neil Bion), Best Sound Design (Lamberto Casas, Jr. and Albert Michael Idioma), Best Production Design (Ericson Navarro) and Best Original Theme Song (“Dominus Miserere” By Francis de Veyra).
Seklusyon drew rave reviews from local critics contributing to the strong word of mouth that made it the no.1 trending topic on social media throughout the film festival’s 10-day run and its subsequent five-day extension period.
Set in post-war 1947, the film follows the story of four deacons (Ronnie Alonte, Dominic Roque, John Vic de Guzman, and JR Versales) who are required to undergo a one-week retreat in a seclusion house prior to their ordination as full-fledged priests. Trained to resist the devil’s temptations, the four are instead forced to confront their inner demons. Their stay in the seclusion house is compounded further when they are joined by Anghela and Madre Cecilia.
Produced by Reality Entertainment, Seklusyon also stars Neil Ryan Sese, Lou Veloso, Elora Españo, Jerry O’ Hara, and Teroy Guzman.