‘Kampon’ review — Under prying eyes

King Palisoc’s horror film about surveillance feels constantly at odds with itself.

BY

THE HORROR GENRE and the Metro Manila Film Festival are inextricably linked. It’d be absurd to say that one ceases to exist without the other, but let’s call a spade a spade. MMFF is the one time of the year Filipinos flock the theaters with complete abandon, baseless “they don’t make good Pinoy movies anymore” statements notwithstanding. Always present is a horror film, in either the form of one-off shlockers or an enduring anthology franchise that lives on to be half as old as the festival (Shake, Rattle & Roll). The result? A decades-long archive of supremely “mid” horrors with the occasional brilliant outliers.

King Palisoc’s Kampon hopes to fall under the latter, despite having to make choices that cater to the typical MMFF cinemagoer: random jump scares, overexplain-y dialogue, and the like. What comes out of it is quite a strange film that, against my best efforts to appreciate it, feels ultimately at constant odds with itself.

The film follows a young married couple. Zoomers will categorize them as DINKs, but that would imply a willingness to lead a childless marriage. On the contrary, Eileen (Beauty Gonzales) has been trying to have a kid with her husband, Clark (Derek Ramsay), a disgraced cop-turned-businessman. She has been failing on account of her husband’s impotence. To their credit, they manage to keep a relatively healthy marriage. But all that changes when a young girl named Jade (Erin Espiritu) appears at their doorstep and claims that Clark is her father.

The premise feels Servant-coded (which is to say it feels Nocebo-coded): a vaguely familiar intruder waltzes into your home, and before you know it…the nightmares start. It becomes clear that Jade isn’t simply a doe-eyed little girl with a knapsack on her back, what with the nightly chanting, occasional levitation, and the infestation of disheveled stalkers lurking about, seemingly watching their every move.

And the scarier parts of the film lie in the not-knowing. Your mind (mine) goes to different places: Is Jade the incarnate of the dark arts? Does her arrival have to do with whatever happened that made the police force kick their former colonel to the curb? Did Clark do something atrocious to someone in the past? You become wary of who you root for and against. And you find it funny when the ex-cop gets the unnerving brunt of surveillance inside his own house (to which I say…dasurv?).

After a strong half, the film switches its gear and starts unfolding in typical MMFF horror fashion. There’s a whole other side arc that features Jade’s mom (played by Zeinab Harake) who gets inadvertently touched by an evil entity in the film’s opening. The whole bit feels somewhat disjointed from the main (and more interesting) parts of the film. The film reaches a bloody finale that, while entertaining, feels like it shifts the film away from the fears and anxieties of being under the close watch of prying eyes.


Kampon

Director: King Palisoc
Screenwriters: King Palisoc, Dodo Dayao
Cast: Derek Ramsay, Beauty Gonzales, Zeinab Harake, Erin Espiritu

After 8 years of marriage, a childless couple named Clark and Eileen meet a little girl who one day, came knocking at their door claiming to be Clark’s child. Despite the unexpected situation, the wife accepts the child and temporarily fosters her while figuring the next steps. Meanwhile, Clark investigates the child’s history while Eileen begins to develop an odd and eerie relation with the child.

Kampon film poster. ©Quantum Films
Where to watch Kampon
Powered by JustWatch

Discover more from Unreel

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.