In the modern world, wannabe priests must undergo a simple and organized process through the seminary if they wish to be ordained. Contrary to the way priesthood is viewed today, Erik Matti’s Seklusyon presents the audience with a very different take on the ordaining process. Set in 1947, during the Japanese occupation, the film provides an eerie glimpse on what it took to be a soldier of the Lord.
The story revolves around how candidates for priesthood are sent to a secluded area during their last week of training before they are ordained. Here, their faith is tested as they go through their last seven days as deacons. It is believed that in an attempt to stop the deacons from becoming priests, this is the period wherein demons tempt them with worldly desires. In an attempt to shield them from evil, the aspiring priests are secluded from the material world and its sinister temptations.
Anghela is a recently orphaned child who is believed by the townspeople to be a messenger sent by God. She performs healing miracles to the sick and needy and was given the title “Anghela Sta. Ana” because of her miraculous deeds. With the consent of Sister Cecilia, Anghela’s official guardian, it was decided that Anghela is to temporarily remain in the area where four deacons have been residing for their last seven days.
This horror-thriller film keeps its viewers on the edge of their seats as it weaves an elaborate plot around its diverse characters, captivating the audience as it tells a tale of how some wolves can be found under sheep’s clothing. Though there are only a hand-full of characters in the film, each persona stands out in a sense that they are all quite intricate, while representing a very different picture from the others. Each of the characters display many erroneous moral acts, which don’t stray too far from those we’re quite familiar with in the present.
The film was made with minimal lighting, thanks to the bone-chilling glow of candlelight and the minimal use of bright fluorescents, which only added to the eeriness of the movie. People say that the addition of background music in certain scenes only adds to the suspense, but in Seklusyon, the sinister silence that filled the theater served to further keep the viewers agog as they watched the plot unfold. But along with the otherworldly silence which the film utilizes to its full potential, it also has well-placed, eerie, and sometimes tension-filled music when needed.
Another commendable aspect of the film was Rhed Bustamante’s (Anghela) acting, which impeccably projected the innocence of a child and at the same time invited viewers to see that there is another side to her character.
The film may be labelled as horror, but the message Seklusyon aims to impart to its viewers prompts one to pause and re-evaluate one’s faith. The parting message of the film does not limit itself to mere religion, but can also be applied to almost all situations, if not most. Seklusyon offers its viewers a new and different lens to look at the world with, which in the end offers one the opportunity to think and reconsider one’s actions and decisions.
Celine D. Natividad is a guest author from The GUIDON Features. Read more of her work from the November 2016 printed issue of The GUIDON or from the website.