3 Best Movies to Watch From Epicmedia

Staff & contributors
In the years since Fan Girl's original release in the Philippines, its ultimate message and execution has become polarizing: is it enough that the film shows the corruption of a parasocial relationship into an abusive one, without offering much hope? Is its vision of justice actually constructive or disappointingly limited? No matter where you fall, it's exciting that a movie can stir up these kinds of questions through a bizarre dynamic between characters, in a place that's clearly set somewhere between reality and delusion. The narrative is circular and frustrating for a reason—a constant push and pull as the titular fan girl keeps getting drawn back into the celebrity's orbit—and the film only grows more disturbing with each repetition.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Bea Alonzo, Camille Penaverde, Charlie Dizon, Gie Onida, Micko Laurente, Milo Elmido Jr., Mina Cruz, Paulo Avelino, Sheenly Gener

Director: Antoinette Jadaone

Rating: PG-13

There's a cruelty to In My Mother's Skin that may seem off-putting at first, but one must reckon with the sheer scale of the violence already occurring before these characters are even introduced to us. The Japanese occupation of the Philippines was a particularly vicious period in the country's history; if Filipinos weren't fighting or hiding from their invaders, many of them were trying to maintain a precariously submissive, neutral existence, or they were being turned against each other due to the conflict of war trickling down between the social classes. All these things are implicit throughout Kenneth Dagatan's film, which doesn't try to reenact World War II but capture the total absence of hope during this period.

Dagatan's style of horror insists on a very slow pace, emphasizing every footstep leading to a horrifying reveal, and not just the main scare itself. This choice doesn't always work, especially as certain beats begin to repeat themselves, but the film's incredibly confident visual style fills every moment with an eerie paranoia. Gothic, shadowy interiors, nasty gore, and one opulently costumed fairy make everything perpetually unsettling—gradually forcing us to accept that these contradictions are just the reality of life under war.

Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, War

Actor: Angeli Bayani, Arnold Reyes, Beauty Gonzalez, Brian Sy, Felicity Kyle Napuli, James Mavie Estrella, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Ronnie Lazaro

Director: Kenneth Lim Dagatan

, 2022

Irish director Lorcan Finnegan's follow-up to the social dystopia Vivarium, too, centers around the trials and tribulations of a nuclear family. Overwhelmed by work and struck by an inexplicable disease, Christine (played by Eva Green) seems to have forgotten she employed a caretaker for her daughter Bobs. The plot thickens when a Filipino woman named Diana rings the door bell: what kind of mother forgets something like that? What follows is as nightmarish as it sounds, the film's visual potency summoning one's deepest fears and anxieties about reality slipping away. Green and Chai Fonacier (Diana) play an exquisite game of cat and mouse, but even the psychological thrill of that chase is not significant enough to overthrow the dubious racial politics at play. By the end, Nocebo makes an effort to position itself on the right side of history, but the power of its political critique wanes and wanes.

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Actor: Anthony Falcon, Billie Gadsdon, Cathy Belton, Chai Fonacier, Eva Green, Mark Strong

Director: Lorcan Finnegan