Directed by: Xia Magnus
Written by: Xia Magnus
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With a firm gothic underpinning and some excellent performances Xia Magnus has not only done a commendable job with this title, but probably exceeded the expectations of many. It's one of those movies that has the ability to get under your skin and linger, something many micro budget independent titles are simply not able to accomplish. There are jump scares and then there's that slow burning horror feeling that intensifies until by the end, you're left with a few less fingernail tips. Sanzaru is not the perfect movie, and does slow down a little more than it should at times, but it's more than enough to please anyone who prefers quality storytelling over flashy gimmicks.
Evelyn ( Aina Dumlao ) and her son Amos ( Jon Viktor Corpuz ) have moved into the home of Dena ( Jayne Taini ) to help care for her. Dena is getting on in years and has dementia, becoming increasingly difficult for her own son Clem ( Justin Regan )to care for. Evelyn is a nurse of common sense, but as this title progresses she begins to question her own sanity. As Dena's state worsens, the house itself seems to come alive and is getting stronger as the dementia takes more and more of Dena.
Special attention to the setting of this film was a smart move. The cinematography and sound all seem to magnify, if not actually create the tense location this title takes place within. The house itself. Full of shots and audio that was obviously planned out, that gothic vibe and tense evocation of feeling is a direct example of the production elements at play. Fuse with some good editing and a focus on chaotic cuts when needed, the production and post work play a definitive role in this film matched only by some good performances from the actors involved.
Dumalao and Taini both shine hauntingly well in this film. Taini managing to pull off what could only be a tough role, as a woman with dementia and Dumalao playing against her as the warm, caring nurse. The perfect contrast to Taini, who seems to be slightly lacking in warmth with or without her illness. Regan, as Clem is a diamond in the rough character as well. Troubled but trying his best is how I would describe the character, done well by Regan. Sanzaru is a well casted production, making the film all the better for it.
Although I did feel this title was a little long in the tooth, It's still a surprising title that far exceeds mediocrity. Xia Magnus has compiled a troupe that knew what was wanted and accomplished their goals. Not perfect but when it comes to horror movies, better than a lot of the big studio drivel out there today. Thank you for reading.