Prod firm responds to viewer ‘disappointed’ by ‘Mallari’

June 25, 2024 - 2:29 PM
Piolo Pascual as Fr. Juan Severino Mallari in this screengrab of the trailer of 'Mallari' as posted on the YouTube of Mentorque Productions (mentorque/YouTube)

Spoiler Alert: Article contains spoilers for “Mallari” 

Pioneering film production company Mentorque acknowledged that there were “controversial choices” in developing the horror film “Mallari“.

The firm said this as reviews fill social media following its debut on Netflix Philippines.

The third-best picture of the 2023 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) was made available on the streaming giant on June 21.

READ: Where to stream these MMFF 2023 entries legally

It had the following synopsis:

“A doctor scours his family’s occult history for a way to prevent his fiancee’s death, only to find secrets that link to a series of 19th-century murders.”

The multi-awarded film was immediately streamed by its Filipino subscribers following its release.

Some also took to social media to air their comments and post reviews of “Mallari” which initially gained buzz upon its theatrical screening last year.

Among these was Neri Ann, a blogger who runs the “Nheng’s Wonderland” blog.

Neri on Saturday shared her thoughts about “Mallari,” saying that she was once again “disappointed.”

“Padre Mallari is the first serial killer documented here sa Pilipinas. Binasa ko pa muna story [niya] bago ‘to maipalabas nun sa MMFF. Sana hindi na lang nila ginawan ng story kasi it was poorly executed,” she wrote on her Facebook page on June 21.

Neri thought that the film’s plot was “overwhelming,” adding it featured “stories of faith healing, Filipino folklore, ghosts, witchcraft and voodoo.”

“Sana nag-stick na lang sila sa story ng totoong Father Mallari,” she commented.

“Father Mallari’s story has so much potential! Sayang, ginawan na lang sana nila ng ibang story [itong] film ni Piolo,” the blogger added.

Her post has reached 6,100 likes and reactions, 2,300 shares and 3,700 comments so far, with some Filipinos agreeing with her sentiments.

Mentorque was able to read and comment on the blogger’s review in the comments section.

It said that its initial goal as a film production company was “to be able to capture the Filipino market.”

“[It’s] a plethora of variables when it comes to Filipino audiences,” Mentorque added.

It then explained why it included elements of occultism in the film.

“There were controversial choices sa pagbuo ng pelikulang Mallari. We are well aware of that. We stood firm that Filipino Folklore should be included because ito naman din talaga ‘yung chismis/paniniwala nila noon sa Magalang,” the production company said, referring to the town in Pampanga where Father Juan Severino Mallari served as parish priest.

“We also understand na [iba-iba] naman talaga appreciation ng tao. Pero hopefully, not to a point na mag-discourage ang disappointment, we can only wish. Promise, we will always try to elevate without forgetting our roots,” Mentorque added.

It then mentioned how grateful it was to have partnered with Warner Bros. Pictures, an international film production company, in distributing the film across theaters.

“An inch movement forward will always be a victory for all of us in the Film Industry. For Warner Bros. Pictures to partner with us is a win for all of us. Ito po ay first mainstream movie namin, madami po kaming natutunan, mahalaga po lahat ng inyong saloobin,” Mentorque said.

The prod firm offered its gratitude to people who have watched the film, be it critics or supporters.

“Salamat sa lahat ng hindi naka-appreciate, we hope to gain your support sa mga susunod na pagkakataon,” the production company said.

“Sa lahat ng naka-appreciate. You inspire us to do more, to test our limits. Samahan niyo po kami sa pangarap namin that we are able to export Filipino craftsmanship through film to the world. Salamat po ng madami!” it added.

The blogger responded to Mentorque and said that she appreciated the production company for taking the time to read her review.

“Thank you for taking the time to share this comment with us. I appreciate it so much. Please know that my feedback on Mallari is not a discouragement, it’s rather to spark interesting discussions that are related to the film,” Neri commented.

“I am actually learning a lot from the commenters here. I love watching movies, that is why I have so much hope for Philippine movies. Keep doing what you all do and I will be looking forward to more of your future movies,” she added.

“Mallari” takes inspiration from the story of Fr. Juan Severino Mallari, the first documented serial killer in the country.

He was a parish priest of Magalang, Pampanga from the early 1800s who killed 57 people.

Historian and psychiatrist Luciano Santiago said that Mallari’s actions stemmed from his mother’s belief that she was bewitched.

It was said that the priest believed taking his parishioner’s lives would reverse the spell.

His crimes would only be known decades after it was committed. Mallari was then imprisoned for 14 years and then executed in 1840.

Meanwhile, its movie version takes place in three separate periods — during the Spanish Colonial Era, the post-World War II period and the present day, with Piolo Pascual playing Mallari and his fictional descendants Johnrey and Jonathan in different eras.

Apart from Piolo, “Mallari” also stars Mylene Dizon, Janella Salvador, Gloria Diaz, Tommy Alejandrino, Elisse Joson and JC Santos. It was directed by multi-awarded Derick Cabrido.

The film was recognized as the third Best Picture at the MMFF 2023 “Gabi ng Parangal.”

It also won the Best Supporting Actor for JC, who played as Brother Lucas.

The film likewise won Best Visual Effects for Gaspar Mangarin and Best Musical Score for Von de Guzman.

“Mallari” also won six awards at the 72nd FAMAS Awards, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay.

Earlier this year, Mentorque announced it would make a movie inspired by one of the country’s most enigmatic legends — the “lost city of Biringan.”

RELATED: Prod firm behind ‘Mallari’ to make movie about ‘lost city of Biringan’