The Animals

THE ANIMALS (Philippines, 2012)
International Premiere
80 minutes, DCP, in Tagalog with English subtitles
Directed by: Gino M. Santos
Starring: Albie Casino, Dawn Balagot, Patrick Sugui

“Dance me to the end of hope,” sings young director Gino M. Santos’ mesmerizing début feature. A wild waltz into the world of Manila’s gilded youth and the opulent, violent pleasures of their clubhouse open parties, THE ANIMALS examines 24 hours in the lives of three chauffeur-driven high-schoolers. Studious and serious-minded on the surface, Jake (Albie Casino) has no intention of keeping his promise to his parents not to stay out late at the after-school party he’s organized. Alex (Patrick Sugui) starts the day with a pre-breakfast hit of weed and steels himself for the wicked things that his fraternity initiation is sure to bring.

Meanwhile, it’s just another day in the fab life of Trina (Dawn Balagot), Alex’s older sister and Jake’s hotter-than-hot girlfriend. A self-involved kleptomaniac, Trina has few worries other than maintaining her hard bod and keeping up with her cool-clique BFFs… So yeah, the kids are all right. Exit the parents, and enter the problems. Unleashed are the inner-party beasts whose at-school goings-on intermesh into a devil’s dance that builds up to Jake’s big-bang bash. As the festivities get closer, the frivolous, happy-go-lucky feel of the story swiftly darkens with scenes of hazing and humiliation. Slapped around simply for making eye contact, Alex and fellow noob Marco (John Wayne Sace) are bullied into performing increasingly crass acts of random cruelty. Santos’ camera casts a keen, unblinking eye on the privileged-but-likeable brats— their social hierarchy, sense of entitlement, and aching need to be cooler, holier, and hipper than thou.

The aching reaches a boiling point at the Friday-night bacchanals, where booze and body fluids flow like blood from a bullet wound, and beautiful, erratic teen bodies, raging with hormones and bad judgement, turn restrooms into vessels for vomit. This being the social-media age, on-the-spot camera shots go viral and reveal a not-so-pretty picture. The end will be bitter, and the kick visceral. It’s not the country’s first R-16 film for nothing.

Tuesday July 2, 2:45PM Walter Reade Theater Buy Tickets

Wednesday July 10, 10:25PM Walter Reade Theater Buy Tickets

Part of Manila Chronicles: the New Filipino Cinema