Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — From surefire hits that brought something new to the table like “Alone, Together,” to triumphant and vibrant stories like “Cleaners,” to stylish genre films like “Dead Kids,” there was no shortage of groundbreaking and entertaining Filipino films that appealed to every kind of viewer in 2019.
This year promises to be no different, if even better. Anticipated sequels and big-name titles are a given, but there are also bold new directions for high-concept genre films such as horror and socially relevant crime thrillers, as well as ambitious projects with all-star casts that frame Metro Manila and other Philippine regions in a whole new light.
If there’s anything to be said about the coming decade in Filipino filmmaking, it’s that we continue to branch out and grow as creators and consumers — if we can pull off complicated science fiction and lore and even animated movies about cats and dogs in love, we can do anything. And it’s all very exciting to watch unfold.
Here are 10 movies across different genres and platforms to watch out for in 2020.
Screenshot from CINEMA BRAVO/FACEBOOK
Yam Laranas, known for “Aurora” and “The Road,” directs Yam Concepcion in this horror film, opening Jan. 22. Concepcion plays an assistant to a pathologist on her first day at work, who has to spend the night in the morgue. The long hours are torture enough, but then the dead begin to show signs of reanimation, and no one seems to heed her cries for help.
Screenshot from ABS-CBN STAR CINEMA/YOUTUBE
Mikhail Red follows up “Dead Kids” with another thriller centered on a young cast — this time a group of university students battling zombies after a viral outbreak reaches the city. The ensemble cast is led by Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia and includes Maris Racal, McCoy de Leon, Ian Veneracion, Dimples Romana, and Ina Raymundo. The project, which has been anticipated for years, finally opens on Jan. 29.
“Love or Money”
Angelica Panganiban and Coco Martin are set to play romantic leads for the first time in this feature. Produced by Black Sheep Productions and directed by Mae Cruz Alviar, “Love or Money” was announced late last year as Star Cinema’s latest Valentine’s Day offering. Plot details have yet to be revealed, but it already has a tentative release date of Feb. 12.
Photo from BLACK SHEEP/FACEBOOK
“Death of Nintendo”
Helmed by “Smaller and Smaller Circles” director Raya Martin and set in the suburbs of Manila the summer before the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, “Death of Nintendo” introduces four 13-year-old friends who discover everything together — from pop culture and video games to circumcision and first love. It’s set to premiere in the 2020 Berlinale this February.
Screenshot from WATCH LIST/FACEBOOK
Having competed in independent film festivals across the United States including the Seattle International Film Festival, American director Ben Rekhi’s “Watch List” hits Philippine cinemas on Feb. 19. The crime thriller stars Alessandra De Rossi as a widow whose husband becomes a casualty of the war on drugs. In order to protect her children, she has to confront dark forces working against her — some of them within herself.
Photo from ALESSANDRA DE ROSSI/FACEBOOK PAGE
“Fluffy and Fream”
Alessandra De Rossi’s directorial debut is a romantic drama featuring Piolo Pascual and De Rossi herself. In the trailer, posted by the actress to Twitter, a couple experiences the ups and downs of a relationship in scenic locations. “Fluffy and Fream” is produced by Pascual’s Spring Films and co-written by De Rossi and Noreen Capili.
“Whether the Weather is Fine”
Daniel Padilla and Charo Santos-Concio play mother and son in this film, which explores the events and aftermath of typhoon Yolanda and the victims’ stories of survival, loss, and hope. “Whether the Weather is Fine” is directed by Carlo Francisco Manatad and co-stars MNL48 member Francinne Rifol, also known as Rans, who makes her acting debut.
Screenshot from CINEMA BRAVO/FACEBOOK
“Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story”
First announced in 2017, “Hayop Ka!” by director Avid Liongoren, turned heads with its eye-catching animation style applied to a teleserye-esque story in which the leads are anthropomorphic animals. Title character Nimfa Dimaano is a cat who works at a department store and finds herself caught in the middle of a love triangle with two dogs: her boyfriend, who works as a janitor, and a high-profile entrepreneur. The film features the voices of Robin Padilla, Sam Milby, Empoy Marquez, Arci Muñoz, and Angelica Panganiban.
“James and Pat and Dave”
Ronnie Alonte reprises his role in this sequel and spin-off to the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival top grosser “Vince and Kath and James.” After Kath and Vince (played by Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia in the first film) experience their happily ever after, James (Alonte) is left to deal with the aftermath of rejection and second lead syndrome. Director Theodore Boborol also returns to helm the project, which co-stars Loisa Andalio and Donny Pangilinan.
“Kapag Wala Nang Mga Alon”
The latest from Lav Diaz is expected to be a 300-minute retelling of “The Count of Monte Cristo” in black and white. The story revolves around a prisoner who is freed after 30 years and returns to his hometown, where he executes a plan to reclaim the wealth and love he has lost by exacting bloody revenge against his former best friend — the man who took them in the first place.
Photo from ANTONETTE JADAONE/INSTAGRAM
Directed by Antoinette Jadaone, “Fan Girl” stars Paulo Avelino as himself and revolves around a teenager who finds herself stuck inside a mansion with a celebrity who has been the object of her fixation — and realizes that she doesn’t actually know him as well as she thought. The production team held open auditions for the titular character, and the actress selected for the role has yet to be revealed.