In Focus: Aurora

Yam Laranas is probably best known for The Road (2011), Patient X (2009), and Sigaw (2004), all of which were hailed as some of the best horror films of their time. While he’s not been active in recent years, he has re-emerged this 2018 with two more flicks: Abomination and now Aurora.

Leana (Anne Curtis) runs a seaside inn that bears witness to the tragedy of passenger ship Aurora, which cost the lives of hundreds of commuters. As the coastguard ceases rescue operations, the desperate families of the departed conspire with Leana to try to recover the bodies of the victims.

Laranas is great at building suspense, and he fills the first two acts of Aurora with brimming tension. Like its characters, the audience is treated with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shots of uncanny imagery. He lets the roaring waves, Leana and her sister Rita’s (Phoebe Villamor) isolation, and the old, dilapidated inn do some mind tricks. With impeccable cinematography and sound design, Aurora up to that point is nothing but masterful cinema.

Its third act, however, could have used better plotting. We’re given needless exposition from Arnold Reyes’ character. There are also some bits that could have been emphasized and would have made the ending much more profound. If anything, I’d still commend how the editing capably allowed the audience to be in the shoes of Leana and Rita as well as the victims.

Anne Curtis plays off well with Leana being a well-driven, rootable protagonist with clear motivations behind her actions. She’s on a roll this year with Sid and Aya, Buy Bust, and Aurora. Viva Films has succeeded in diversifying her filmography and giving her challenging projects.

Abomination was arguably the weakest film in Sinag Maynila last March and may even point to the acclaimed director losing his touch. I’m happy to report that Aurora puts any of those doubts to rest. Yam Laranas is back!

Directed by: Yam Laranas
Starring: Anne Curtis, Phoebe Villamor, Alan Paule, Marco Gumabao, Mercedes Cabral

Random notes (SPOILERS BELOW)

  • Wow! What a great opening sequence!
  • Mercedes Cabral was such a magnetic presence that you miss her once she leaves.
  • Amazing how the telephone was still working amidst the raging storm!
  • I think the subplot with the giant is a bit unnecessary, as is the backstory of Leana’s parents.
  • Imagine how much more powerful the movie would have been if it were emphasized that the people in the ship saw Leana’s inn from afar, which served as their hope in surviving the incident.

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