Friday, July 05, 2013

NYAFF ’13: The Fridge

Somebody get this woman a box of industrial strength Arm & Hammer.  She just can’t get that musty malevolent spirit out of her refrigerator.  Yes, she has a demonic appliance.  Evil takes many forms, so just go with it when Rico Maria Ilarde’s The Fridge (trailer here) screens tonight during the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival.

After years in America, Tina has returned to her old family home in the Philippines, hoping to discover what happened to her parents.  Nobody wants to talk about, so it must have been awful.  The house looks spooky from the street, but it is pretty cozy on the inside, aside from that hulking, ugly-looking refrigerator.  Turns out the appliance has an attitude to match.

Trying to start a new life, Tina crosses paths with James, an old torch-carrying elementary school friend at the grocery store and asks the electrician to come check out her buggy wiring shortly thereafter.  If that sounds like a way too convenient coincidence, bear in mind this is a film about a killer refrigerator.  Your pedantry is neither useful nor welcome here.

Of course, the fridge with its supernatural tentacles (sort of a cross between Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors and Cthulhu) starts racking up a respectable body count, in spectacularly bloody fashion.  However, most of its victims sort of have it coming, E.C. Comics style.  (Maybe not the neighbor’s cat, but it was disposable anyway.)

One of the crazier things about Fridge is its horror movie mechanics are way better than one would expect.  Sure, on some level it is cognizant how ludicrous the story truly is.  Nonetheless, Ilarde sets the mood nicely and Andi Eigenmann and JM de Guzman play it scrupulously straight as Tina and James.  Never winking at the camera, they act like it is pretty dreadful to have a possessed refrigerator in your kitchen, as it most certainly would be.

But wait, there’s more—two of the country’s top actors lend their prestige to the picture.  Joel Torre soldiers through like a good sport as Tina’s long suffering father and Ronnie Lazaro delivers a stiff shot of badassery as retired Det. Albay, styling an eye-patch and a triple-barreled shotgun.

Seriously, how can you go wrong with a killer refrigerator movie?  Executed with earnest confidence, this one will likely exceed audience expectations by a healthy margin.  While there is clearly a generous element of camp to it, Fridge holds together surprisingly well.  Horror movie fans really have to check it out when it screens tonight (7/5) at the Beale Theater and Wednesday afternoon (7/10) at the Walter Reade as part of this year’s New York Asian Film Festival.