There seems to be a trend in recent Star Cinema horror movies – from Maria Leonora Teresa, Feng Shui 2, and now to Halik Sa Hangin. They all have an interesting premise that starts slow and captures the audience’s attention, only for everything to falter. It’s such a shame, really, especially for Halik Sa Hangin, which does a superb job establishing sympathy for its main character Mia (Julia Montes) in the first act, only to suffer from a pretentious second act and a befuddled third act.
Mia is an art student struggling to get over her father’s (Jet Pangan) death. She now lives in Baguio with her estranged mother and stepfather (Ina Raymundo and Edu Manzano), both of whom try to help, although she mostly rebuffs them and remains distant. She then meets Gio (Gerald Anderson), a strange young man who develops a strong connection with her. Gio hides a dark secret that puts Mia and those close to her in danger.
Just to get it out of the way, technicals for this movie are solid. True, there are minor dubbing issues, and the scene where Gio introduces his family could have been edited better, but all in all, it’s serviceable. The beautiful landscapes and sights in Baguio are utilized well, especially in the evening date scene, where the fog and mist add an extra layer of mystery.
It’s Gio’s secret that grounds the movie and pushes it forward. But unfortunately, from the very start it’s spoiled by not-so-subtle hints that when the big reveal is finally shown, it comes as no surprise. I think leaving a clue here and there would have worked better than filling Gio and Mia’s dialogue with entire blocks of giveaways.
Despite my issue with how the movie treated the whole conceit behind Gio, I still feel it could have become a good premise for a compelling love story. However, the problem goes beyond that. The movie itself is confused and does not exactly know how to marry horror and melodrama. The end result are deaths that are unwarranted, a complete 360-degree change of tone in the third act, and character development that’s thrown out the window. The direction the movie took after that left much to be desired. I would have much preferred it stayed as a melodrama with some supernatural elements integrated, which is what it seems to be heading for, at least until the middle.
This confusion in tone becomes a liability, especially for Gerald Anderson, who cannot fully play with the intricacies of his character due to its murky motivations. I understand Gio is supposed to be obsessive to the point of being selfish, but his descent to madness could have been handled much more delicately by the script.
Julia Montes, on the other hand, benefits from the movie’s strong first act that focuses on Mia. Truth be told, this is definitely Julia Montes’ movie. She grasps fully well the tragedy of her character, which makes it easy to root for her despite her misgivings.
All in all, it’s a bit difficult to fully recommend Halik Sa Hangin. I feel it could have gotten somewhere a lot more intriguing, a lot more poignant. Instead, we have here a half-baked melodrama and a half-baked horror film. It should have gone all the way in one direction.
Stray observations (SPOILER ALERT! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!)
- Wow, Julia Montes looks exceptionally beautiful in this movie.
- I think JC de Vera deserves a meatier role. He’s just a token third wheel in this one.
- Why exactly was the guitar repair man killed? Motivations please.
- Mia rides the Vespa going to the park but takes a taxi going home. Lol!
- Gio is a ghost, in case you missed it. What makes it such a giveaway? He wears the same clothes all the time. He appears and disappears at whim. He talks about death, “pagpapakita,” “pagsama.” He doesn’t want his picture taken. Plus many others.
- Gio conveniently shows his handsome face or ghost face whenever he likes – or whenever the story feels like it.
- What a touching theme song performed by Ebe Dancel and Abra.
- Mia’s mother vindicates herself by revealing she’s a battered wife and wanted to take Mia with her. But why only disclose it now? Would have saved Mia from being emo for months if this was shared a lot, lot earlier.
- How exactly did Mia’s cutter end up killing her schoolmate? Details please.
- Did Quinn’s/Queen’s (Jasmine Curtis Smith) whole family die through Gio’s hands as well?
- Where did Minnie Aguilar’s character go after the big chase? Did she die?
- Who would have expected giving the priest (Buboy Garovillo) a significant role in the end? Came out of nowhere.
- How convenient for Gio and his entire family’s ashes to still be kept inside that old house.
- What allowed Gio to cross over – being touched by Mia’s self-sacrifice or his ashes being doused in holy water?
- Who exactly organized the garage sale selling off Gio and his entire family’s possessions? Lol!
Director: Manny Palo
With: Gerald Anderson, Julia Montes, JC de Vera