‘Zombadings’: A great and fun ‘fairy’ tale | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

The independent film “Zombadings I—Patayin sa Shokot si Remington” is a fairy tale for the young and old alike.

Producer-scriptwriter Raymond Lee, who guested in the film’s premiere in Tacloban City, explained to the audience that the basis of its narrative was that of children’s fairy tales like “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast” or the contemporary movie “Shrek.” In these stories, the protagonist, who has been put under a spell by a witch or an evil fairy, transforms into some other personality.

Quite often the transformation is the exact opposite of the original, either in looks or attitude or both. The scullery-maid-in-rags Cinderella becomes a crowned-princess-in-an-elegant-ballgown; the  prince was turned into a hideous and obnoxious monster; the delicate Princess Fiona is an ugly ogre after sunset until sunrise, when she assumes back her princess self.

In “Zombadings,” the boy Remington (played by Andre Borres), who impishly ridicules gay persons in his hometown, ruffles the ire of a sorceress-looking gay hag (played by Roderick Paulate), who casts a sumpa (curse) on him—“Paglaki mo, magiging bakla ka!” (When you grow up, you will become gay!)

His transformation from a handsome young man (portrayed by Martin Escudero) to a pretty gay is what the story is all about.

The matter complicates because, as a straight guy, he has fallen in love with a lovely girl (Lauren Young); and as an evolving gay, he gets attracted to his brawny best friend, Jigs (Kerbie Zamora). Remington struggles as his physical body, feelings, behavior and language change as he struggles, too, to find a way to break the curse.

Amazingly fluid

Martin Escudero is amazingly fluid in depicting the switches and transitions from straight macho guy to a loosened closet queen. He could oscillate from one to the other with ease. In a moment he would be confused and get caught between gender roles along with corresponding chin-ups, finger flips and facial twitches as gay, and subdued fine gestures as a gentleman. He is astoundingly funny!

A popular favorite is the thrilling intimate scene between Remington and Jigs, which takes place by the staircase—the initial attempts, a pinch, a brush of the cheek or the chest, a light kiss, building up to a passionate and pleasurable embrace—but hey, the rest is suspended for a good reason. The script is well-controlled in its internal logic.

Cinematically, the visual drama is simply clever. Very economic, true to the indie-film spirit of economy of means. Nothing technically impressive, its standard and simple cinematography states a clear message. And that makes it meaningfully impressive.

There are no special effects. Illusions are created through basic-shot angles and minimal computer-generated images such as the cute and dreamy circles, stars, triangles, balloons and hearts popping out to the beat as Remington dances with his newly discovered pliant body.

There, too, is the flying shawl that soars up to the sky and enwraps the full moon. Pink-scarfed moon against the bluish dim heaven. Kudos, too, to director Jade Castro and co-scriptwriter Michiko Yamamoto.

Postmodern melange

Colorfully set in the Pahiyas fiesta of Lucban, Quezon, “Zombadings” is a comic horror fantasy that resonates with symbols and motifs of contemporary pop culture, Filipino myth, classic fairy tale and folk knowledge are played up as a syncretic postmodern melange in a simple script of multilayered plots and character narratives.

There is truth in its wholesome and entertaining way of telling the story of Remington, the naughty boy who made derogatory fun of gays. It is about family and friends who comprise one’s support system.

On the whole, its message is not just about respect for gays but more so for people whatever their gender choices. It is an affirmation of one’s self and true nature as well as of the struggle to uphold one’s dignity as a human being.