The story centers around four deacons, who are compelled to spend one week in seclusion before they are ordained to the priesthood, according to the Catholic regulation. While the deacons are all set to spend seven days in solitude in a retreat house, a priest (Neil Ryan Sese) tries to probe a preternatural little girl, called ‘Anghela.’ The girl is worshipped as a deity and is believed to have divine healing powers. The lives of the deacons become somewhat more tortuous when Anghela comes to the ‘holy fortress.’ The malicious truths of the deacons coupled with Anghela’s ‘angelic’ presence give the story a convoluted turn.
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The film is based on a true story, which Eric Matti gleaned from one of his writers and he didn’t use any special effect, as he wanted his audiences to experience the palpable horror. The sepia-tinged cinematography boosts the eerie and taut aura of the movie.
Seklusyon (2016) Trailer
Casting & Direction
The only snag, which the film suffers from, is its main protagonist Miguel’s (Ronnie Alonte) prosaic performance. But just to ‘balance’ it, child star Rhed Bustamante came as an absolute surprise package. She effortlessly portrayed the conflict between good and evil, innocence and deceit. Unlike his other projects, Matti put his faith on newcomers this time. Matti in one of his interviews said, “…the more unknown the actor is, the more people can relate to the story because the personality of the star doesn’t get in the way of the story.”
In his hugely acclaimed movie “On the job (2013)” Matti unhesitantly discussed the political ferment which afflicted the Philippines. He was much blunt in the depiction of his country’s political scenario. But in Seklusyon, he chose to enwrap his message and his motive in a sleeve of horror, mystery element. The movie is set in 1946 Philippines, where religion became the mainstay of the war-damaged nation. Though the film is being broadly classified as a horror flick, it has much more to offer than just jump-scares or ghostly pursuits.
Seklusyon (2016) Review: Movie Explained!
Seklusyon leaves you with two questions… “What if we deliberately overlook the thin, blurry line between the Good and the Evil?” and “Shall we knowingly surrender to the Evil, if it accomplishes all our selfish desires and deleterious interests?” The irony is that sometimes we knowingly allow our devilish side to take control over our souls so that we can evade certain challenges, which life hurls at us.
It is quite evident that Anghela was well aware of the sins of each of the four deacons. As Marco’s brothers died due to starvation, and his insatiable nature was concomitant to their deaths, Marco suffered from repentance just like the other three. So, this whole scene points at Marco’s past transgression. Miguel didn’t have the spine to accept his girl Erina, who carried his child and committed suicide. So she comes as a temptation to him in the guise of Virgin Mary.
The Nun, who was actually Evil’s sidekick was tempting the Bishop to distrust Ricardo. Because he was collecting evidence on whether Anghela rightfully deserved to be beatified as a living saint or not and Ricardo was thoroughly skeptical about Anghela’s ‘divine’ powers. The priest (Ricardo) was looking for evidence to prove Anghela’s divine powers. Instead, he found certain documents, which substantiated that Anghela is nothing but ‘NgaHela,’ devil’s incarnation.
This was the same tree where Erina (Miguel’s girlfriend) hanged herself. She probably gave birth to Anghela under the influence of ‘NgaHela.’ Though this scene is very much ambiguous, it looks like Anghela persuaded her followers to pay homage to this tree in loving memory of her ‘mother’.
This was the first time where Anghela showed a bit of savagery. Her attitude towards the Nun was a bit appalling. But Ricardo’s findings of Anghela and her sidekick explains this vaguely. The nun was gang raped, and her face was thoroughly burnt, but we don’t find any trace of that. So it’s apparent that Anghela restored her beauty and in return, she had to succumb to her devilish intentions.
When in the final act, Miguel confronts Anghela, she confesses about her true intent. All she desires is to become the ‘Evil-God’ and eliminate the dividing line between vice and virtue. She beseeches Miguel to continue as a priest and help her to achieve her pipe dream. In the end when Miguel stabs her, she ‘bleeds black’. Probably this is used as an analogy, as customarily black exemplifies evil. In this closing scene, another phenomenon which might grab your attention is the ‘bloody’ tears running from Virgin Mary’s eyes. This part is absolutely ambiguous. Even though Anghela had ungodly aspiration, she was healing the anguished people. So will it be wrong, if I presume that even the Good doesn’t want the Evil to decay, it wants it to be transformed and to serve the cause of humanity in a pristine way?
This movie will quiver your religious beliefs and will leave you with a daunting feeling. If you are looking for a horror/ mystery/ thriller with an ambiguous plot and appalling ending, then Seklusyon is your answer!
This article is written by Satakshi Banerjee, a devoted cinephile, who loves to explore unsung and underrated Indian or foreign movies. She is the Editor of FilmSpell, a diverse and bottomless well of information about movies.