That’s definitely one of the things I experienced while watching the movie. Gays, Zombies, an odd curse, a love story that at one point becomes a love triangle, a prejudiced serial killer, who thought these combined would make a movie so good?
This peculiar movie revolves around Remington, a young boy, who has a very mean and rude habit of pointing and yelling, “Ay, bakla, bakla, bakla!” (Hey, gay, gay, gay!) at all the homosexuals he sees. Though his scenes were funny, we know that this act of his is wrong so it comes as no surprise when he angers one of the victims of his taunts; a grieving Cross Dresser played by Roderick Paulate, and is cursed for it, “Pag laki mo, magiging bakla ka rin!” (when you grow up, you'll be gay as well!)
The story cuts forward to the present, 15 years later, where Remington, played by Mart Escudero, is now a grown man, who has since long forgotten he was ever cursed. Remington is a bum and spends his day drinking with his friends. But this stops when Hannah, Lauren Young’s character, moves into town and attracts his interest. Her arrival sets things in motion, for just as he is trying to make himself presentable to her, he is suddenly attacked by a terrifying huge man. He wakes up the next day, and along with the audience, is surprised to see that he has been rid of the hair on his legs and armpits. His mother, portrayed by Janice De Belen, a police woman, tries to find the culprit but to no avail. It is after this attack, that Remington starts to dress differently and it is obvious that the curse is finally in effect. This is a nightmare for Remington, who is a man’s man, but is a delight for the audience because as his struggles increases, so does the comedy of his transformation. Remington’s attempts at remaining brusque, fail hilariously, and only make the audience like him more.
Those who watched the movie were consistently left without breath because of Mart Escudero’s believable acting of a straight man that turns gay. Although there were parts that made most men and women cringe, such as his infamous kissing scene with Kerbie Zamora, who plays his best friend turned love interest in the movie, the scenes were executed so tastefully that they never left ‘funny’ and bordered on ‘gross’.
As if the curse alone wasn’t interesting enough, the subplot of the movie, which perfectly intertwines with Remington’s as the story progresses, is that the town is terrorized by a serial gay killer. The police are seen to be doing whatever it is they can but remain to be clueless. Now, another unique part of this film is that the police force and the town are under the authority of women, and that the ones being victimized are men, albeit gay. This obvious reversal of reality is the perfect setting for the movie, making the men’s helplessness realistic within the context of the movie.
Of course, despite all the praise that it has been receiving from movie-goers and critics, I couldn't ignore the small but visible flaws of the movie. The one that I couldn't ignore was that the subtitles for every time Remington talked in gay lingo were late, and didn’t keep up with his dialogue. I also found the way the scenes were cut to be very abrupt and ugly, though the story was unaffected. There is also a particular scene that I wish they had omitted from the movie. This is the very blurry and pixilated shot of the morning sky, because it ruined a second or two of the movie for me. Aside from those technicalities, the effects in the movie were spot on, especially during Remington’s dance sequence. It was perfect and undeniably cute.
Zombadings, in my opinion, is definitely one of the best movies our generation has produced because it defies all the limits we have set for Philippine cinema. The story itself is unique, and that itself is already hard to find in Filipino movies. Although it’s a comedy, it does not only appeal to our humor, it also targets our minds and hearts, and gives us a subtle but firm notion of unconditional love, acceptance and gender equality.
The film ends with a scene similar to that of the opening image, meaning that things have gone back to normal. A little boy, similar to that of young Remington, spots a gay man, and repeats the protagonist’s words in the beginning, “Ay, bakla.” (Gay) And just like before, the subject of his observation hears and faces him, leading the audience to expect that the boy would have the same fate. But surprisingly, the boy says, “Ang ganda” (Beautiful) Signifying that the lesson of the story has indeed been learned.