Direk Ian delivers the scare without exaggeration

By Bot Glorioso

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Director Ian Loreños: Haunted Forest is not just about scary things, it also imparts lessons on family and love

MANILA, Philippines — Regal Entertainment, Inc.’s Haunted Forest is the lone horror film entry in this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) under the direction of Ian Loreños. Just like the past Regal box-office offerings of the same genre, Haunted Forest is going to make moviegoers hold on to their seats for its nerve-wracking scenes. The movie teaser itself sends a chill down one’s spine yet every scene was done without exaggeration. This, direk Ian said, is the result of the combination of his style and Regal’s signature take on scary film genre. “It’s just a matter of style and definitely each (director) has his own taste and style,” direk Ian told The STAR on his “scare tactics.” “Me, personally, I prefer the tricky scare which I am basing from the story and mode of the movie. I guess, Regal has a taste na sinusundan so I have to stick to that kind of style but of course, I have to blend it with my own.” He can make do with the typical jump scare if the story requires it, yet Ian deems the heightened emotion of the audience in the transition of every scene makes for a more effective trick. “I try to bring you to that peak of your fright and saka natin ililitaw; kumbaga playing with emotions.” Another key to achieving an eerie feel is the music or sound with the director agreeing that it serves well for any horror movie. But the sound doesn’t have to be necessarily “hoarse” just to create a creepy atmosphere “but sometimes it can also be scary (kahit) na tahimik ‘yung atmosphere ng movie and it’s one of those hardest things to achieve — to terrify without sound or noise.” Asked how he was able to achieve Haunted Forest’s purpose of presenting visual horror that lingers in one’s memory, Ian said he had the trust of Regal’s matriarch Lily Monteverde and her daughter Roselle “and they gave me some freedom like we met halfway in what they wanted. Apart from that, our movie is not just a purely scary story but it also has lessons.” Haunted Forest revolves around the estranged relationship of policeman Aris (played by Raymart Santiago) and his daughter Nica (Jane Oineza). Their gap worsens when Aris is reassigned to the province which Nica detests. Something mysterious takes place in the forest where Nica starts seeing and feeling an unexplained force. Some call it Sitsit. Sitsit, the director clarified, does not really exist. It’s just created for the movie. “Although I believe in elementals and creatures that’s why we respect those elementals but Sitsit is a product of imagination, gawa-gawa lang ‘yun.” He continued, “In every film that I make, meron akong personal touch although I had no scary experience as the characters in the movie had but perhaps my biggest inputs were the dramatic scenes like loss of loved ones. I mostly based on research the eerie parts of the movie and also by watching a lot of movies that I love.” For those unfamiliar with him, direk Ian started carving a niche in 2010 with a horror indie entry at the Cinemalaya filmfest titled Terible. He, too, was the director, writer and co-producer of Alagwa that topbilled Jericho Rosales. His first directorial project in Regal was Mano Po 7: Chinoy. These days, direk Ian also handles the ABS-CBN afternoon drama series Pusong Ligaw. “I really am enjoying my work. Truth is, I didn’t notice that we already completed (the movie) because I was jumping from TV to movie. For Haunted Forest, we shot scenes in several locations like in Mt. Makiling and Angeles Farm in Rizal.” What can he say about the four lead stars — Jane, Jameson Blake, Maris Racal and Jon Lucas? “What initially came to my mind was they are all bubbly. Bubbly because they’re like kids on the set, naglalaro but they automatically turn serious when it’s time to work which is admirable because they know how to balance things. There are moments of fun and moments when they express their passion for the craft.” Does he feel the pressure with the nearing playdate of Haunted Forest considering that it will compete with seven other MMFF entries? “No pressure at all because I am confident in Regal’s ability to market and make a successful film. And I am confident that we’ve done what is expected of the movie so I am more excited than pressured.” Haunted Forest opens on Dec. 25 in theaters.

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