Quick Take: Ilawod

After a provincial assignment, a news writer and his family get tormented by a water-elemental called Ilawod, who lures souls into her nest.

The monster’s embodiment of the traditional, rural, and ancient is akin to other Filipino supernatural creatures in horror films such as the tiyanak and manananggal. The modern, urban, and cosmopolitan cannot escape nor explain the persistence of the old ways, which take on a more mystical form. This dynamic allows for postcolonial interpretation.

Although polished and well-acted, my major qualm with the film is that it doesn’t satisfyingly build the mythology. How exactly does the Ilawod operate, and what specifically are her powers? Why does she approach each family member differently? What is her purpose and motivation? These questions make the film more baffling than it is frightening.

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