Block Z, Star Cinema’s latest thriller offering, has three things going for it that has gotten me excited about. One: The tandem of Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto or #JoshLia whom I’ve been a fan of since‘Vince and Kath and James. Two: It’s another film by acclaimed millennial director Mikhail Red. Three: It’s a zombie movie— one of the thriller genres that I absolutely love. To what lengths does this film take us and is it worth our buck at the cinema? Here’s the rundown.
[related: Style Inspo: Julia Barretto's White Hot Looks To Copy!]
To set the film's mood, tone, and premise, we are bombarded with various news footages of the Philippines’ state when it comes to dealing with outbreaks. It is very timely with what we are dealing with at the moment and hits so close to home—which could both be a good or bad thing for the film when it comes to its blockbuster potential. Was this overtly done as a calculated risk to heighten the scare factor of the film? +1
The family angle is tackled first, with the establishing scene of the father-daughter relationship between Ian Veneracion and Julia Barretto. I won’t go into the details, but they do make a gorgeous family of two and their chemistry as such proves effective especially in the more crucial scenes at the latter part of the movie. I’ve always admired Ian as an actor, and he is as reliable in this one as always. Plus, he renders a song somewhere in the film. As to what happened to the mom, watch to find out. +3
The film is also a barkada flick as we get to know the other Block Z members, who happen to comprise medical students. Obviously, Lucas (Joshua Garcia) is in love with PJ (Julia), and to round up the foursome are: the resident nerd Myles (McCoy De Leon) and the rich chick Erika (Maris Racal)—who also are another couple-to-be. The dynamics of their clique aren’t set up substantially at first, so let’s just say they end up being THE bunch of beautiful medical students who seem to be luckier than most in the school during that zombie apocalypse. +2
The other ‘luckier’ ones on campus are student council members Myrtle Sarrosa— whose GGSS (gandang-ganda-sa-sarili), social media savvy character I loved, and Yves Flores, the douchebag president that every thriller has to have—if you know what I mean. +2
How the campus environment and mix of students is introduced, though feeling quite contrived, presents a larger-than-life and interestingly quirky group of kids from a generation in a fictitious future. So much for world building, but props to the mechanical aspect of the filmmaking that went into this, which was done with much polish. +1
And then the fun begins with patient zero in the persona of the perpetually sensual Ina Raymundo. As to why she was cast in this role given her innate sexy aura, I’m not sure about, but she definitely is still eye candy as the mother of all zombies—in that campus, that is. +2
As the mayhem escalates, we are served with imagery expected of a zombie flick. Thrilling and suspense-filled? Yes. Well-made and well-thought of scares? Yes. Anything new that it offers, though? That, I’m not too sure about. Well, there is a twist at the end though, that from my memory hasn’t been used in other zombie movies. -1
Another duo I appreciated was Ian Veneracion and lady guard Dimples Romana. Never mind that she wears too much makeup as one (who knows, she might just the kikay kind?), but she is badass with that gun, and the makeup had to run at some point. +3
Too bad #JoshLia ain’t a thing anymore 'cause the film could have really capitalized on their natural onscreen chemistry. I don’t know if it’s just me, but this is the least effective of all their tandems. Maybe 'cause while they were filming this, that whole "issue" was on its peak, which may have affected their performances. Nonetheless, Joshua and Juli are still both amazing, delivering palpable portrayals. +3
Not bad at all with a total of 16 points, which could stand for 16 screams or more that Block Z would bring you in your cinema seat. It still doesn’t trump my favorite Filipino horror film of all time—Cinema One Originals' Di Ingon Nato- a Cebuano zombie apocalypse movie— but it does the trick even with the necessary tropes. Mikhail Red does not disappoint as he expectedly delivers another technically well-made film, which I think you should give a chance at seeing in the cinema if you just wanna jump scare your brains out whether you’re a #JoshLia fan or not.
ALSO READ: Hot Stuff: Kaya FC Academy Partners With Award-Winning Hotel To Further Local Football!
Photos courtesy of ABS-CBN Film Productions and Mikhail Red