I went into the movie wanting to love this movie. I heard so many good reviews about it and I was absolutely rooting for it. It started out as a small indie film, then it opened wider, then expanded due to strong word of mouth. To say that I had high hopes for the movie would be an understatement. After seeing it, the question is: did I end up loving it as I had hoped? Well, yes and no. I loved it because it was brave. Not just for tackling homosexuality and the incumbent homophobia, but for choosing to make a different film, regardless of the topic. For once it skewed away from the usual fare that is offered by local film outfits. Even for a gay-themed film it was different. Usually if homosexuality is the main theme it would either be a sexploitation flick or a tender coming-of-age tale or a Brocka-ish heavy drama that would entail gruesome crimes (usually murder, rape, or both). Zombadings was none of these. For me it’s a very good sign that the local filmmakers are exploring new ways to tale their tales.
But back to the movie, it left me torn right in the middle.
What I liked about the movie is that it had a very strong concept. When was the last time we had a movie about a homophobic youngster cursed to grow up a flaming homosexual by a grieving queen, not to mention the presence of fierce gay zombies? If you were weaned on the perception that local films are mostly uninspired, then this movie will seem fresh like nothing you’ve seen before. Tackling gayness is nothing new, but the attack definitely was. There were nice touches, like the treatment of gayspeak as an actual foreign language needing subtitles, getting fresh new actors to play the 3 leads instead of some big-name stars, and peppering the film with cameos from stars old and new. The standouts of the motley cast for me were Janice De Belen, who anchored the whole film with some genuine emotion, despite the whirlwind of madness, and Roderick Paulate, whose unique comic timing is still peerless in the industry.
But what I liked about the movie also seemed to be its weakness. The concept at many points seemed to have swallowed up the whole movie, oftentimes playing out like an extended one-punchline sketch. A lot of the individual scenes seemed gimmicky at times, as opposed to just funny. To be honest, I had more LOL moments watching RPG Metanoia than watching this. For me, some components just fell with a thud. For example, that whole Marian Rivera cameo seemed forced, the whole Odette Khan character simply left me befuddled, the lady cop assistant of Janice whose “crazyness” was just driving me nuts, and even the talented Eugene Domingo seemed overcome by the skit-based format (like the rolling skating literal scene reminiscent of those Naked Gun movies). I guess what I’m saying is, for every gimmick that works, there is another that falls flat.
Then there is the whole advocacy of the movie. It’s a valiant push for a very timely message: that gay people are not to be feared nor hated nor zapped with a ray gun. Not to nitpick, and I know this is a comedy and not really supposed to mirror real life, but I wish it represented gays in a more realistic way. I guess many people who “fear” gays mainly do so because of the stereotypes that gays are always in drag and talk in this unintelligible swardspeak. Not that there’s anything wrong with being that, but there’s so much more diversity in the gay world than that. In the movie, gays were only either swishy divas who worked in parlors or closet murderous queens. It would’ve been nice to maybe include an openly gay character who worked as a driver or a baker, and who doesn’t dress up in drag. Maybe a student from a university who likes wearing tight-fitting shirts from Folded & Hung or skinny jeans from Zara but poses shirtless on their Facebook profile pic. Or maybe a Fitness First gym rat who wears only tank tops and jogging pants but frequents internet cafes to log on to Grindr (if you can pry them away from their favorite hangout: the steam room). Or maybe a call center agent who collects Mariah Carey memorabilia but doesn’t mind attending the occasional Kylie Minogue concert. Diba, no to stereotypes!
But all in all, totaling what I liked and what I didn’t like, I still applaud the filmmakers for putting out a film that dared to be different. It was a gambit worth taking. Whether it’s about gay zombies or septic tanks, I think it’s a good sign that our moviemakers are starting to look out of the box. True, we might still have a long way to go, but it’s a strong start. I still urge people to watch it, since I know for a fact most people who gave me feedback were raving about the movie. So don’t be dissuaded and go watch it and judge for yourself. Although I’m mixed on the final result, I still stand behind the film and give it an A+ for effort.