Eerie follows a guidance counselor who visits an all-girl Catholic private school after a mysterious death occurs.
I started Netflix this evening without high hopes to be impressed. I figured I would scroll through a couple of the titles and then end up on Shudder or resorting to renting a Very Scary Movie through Xbox. However, I stumbled upon Eerie, the title thumbnail piquing my interest: a ghostly, dead-looking bottom half of a face smiling. I figured, why not, let’s try it...
The movie introduces a nice juxtaposition between eerie music (yes, pun intended) and the Catholic school girls of Santa Lucia doing something as non-eerie as jumping jacks (unless you hated PE in school.) Then began the script in Filipino. This was my first time watching horror in subtitles, and I found it really interesting. A different language added an entirely different facet to the movie-watching experience; I had to rely more on the tone and the atmosphere of the film rather than the spoken words.
Here we are, a Catholic school in the Philippines, and the introduction is a narration about a girl who hung herself in a bathroom stall. At this point I assume “ghosts” and at this point, this film really does have the potential to be, in fact, eerie.
We meet Anna (and promptly forget about her…), a girl who was frightened (presumably, to death?) and we never see again after she uses the girls bathroom during the night. Something I appreciated while watching this scene was the director did a nice job tricking us with mirrors; one always assumes that a ghostly, evil reflection will be the one staring back at you after a cut. At this point JUMP SCARE. But this jump scare was not of the mirror variety- GHOSTLY HANDS AROUND ANNA’S HEAD. Anna (again, presumably) is dead sitting below the sinks. I was happy to have a jump scare which immediately made me audibly gasp.
Then we meet Miss Pat, the school’s counselor. She is talking to Joyce, a lonely girl who struggles with self-harm. Miss Pat promises she will always be there to help Joyce. As if we’re one of her students, the director did a good job promising us a “safe space” while we were in Pat’s office.
And the director did a brilliant job jarring us out of our “safe space” once we see, later, the gnarly, corpse-like ghost of Erika talking to Miss Pat after she falls asleep at her desk. Erika, or “Eri”, was the girl who hanged herself as a result of bullying as explained during the opening narration. It appears Miss Pat can see Eri, and chats with her in ways she can help her. I was impressed with the shots, allowing us to wonder what Eri would really look like, as the light was dark around her face except for her large, dark, staring eyes. Miss Pat, and I, really felt for Eri and her loneliness, and Miss Pat promises she’ll be with Eri no matter what, not understanding exactly what that would mean.
A couple more jump scares later, I ended up waiting with bated breath for an actual scary moment and not just a loud blast of strings when something unsettling shows up on the screen. But, maybe the scariest moments aren’t with Ghost of Erika Past at all… maybe there’s something much more sinister going on?
About halfway through the film, during one of the many… many more jumps, another girl, Clara, who had also been murdered by the school’s groundskeeper, turns around and screams at Miss Pat, blood streaming down her crying eyes, and it was at this point that I just chuckled. Fool me once, I’m scared. Fool me twice, okay, that was still pretty good. Fool me seven times, I laugh in your face. Are normal movie-goers still scared at the same scare that was exactly exactly like the others? Am I just a curmudgeon?
Eventually I realized that I don’t know or care at this point what there was to “find out” by the end. However there was a big reveal (read: bland, small-to-medium reveal) that the ghost of Eri had possessed the groundskeeper to kill Clara so she could have a friend after being bullied in life (and reminding you, there had been no mention of Anna up until this point or at all after this). Eri had been controlling people while in spirit form to make them kill others. And by the end, Eri does just this- controls the homicide detective, who was investigating the groundskeeper’s motive to kill Clara, to choke Pat on the roof of the girls’ school. However, she appears to be saved by Clara, coming and tackling Eri off the roof. The end reveals that Pat had in fact been murdered by the homicide detective, but she continues the narration from before, and, in her own way as a ghost, was able to help Joyce recover from a similar fate as that of Eri.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at this film. The score was simple, if not a little typical of any other horror movie. The atmosphere was good- photography employed dismal, dreary grey and slightly green tones to encourage the unsettled sentiment throughout. The safety of Miss Pat’s office, and the safety of prayer altars, candles, and light are few and far between, making the viewer hope for somewhat of a reprieve. The scares got a little stale, but I’m willing to forgive that, as the acting by the Filipino cast was spot-on. The ending was touching, sad, and memorable.
Good movie? Yes, and I’d be interested in seeing more of this director’s work or the actors in this film!
Scary movie? Mmmm, I will say yes, but I hesitate to call it a Very Scary Movie.
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 7/10
All around Eerie is a pretty decent horror film! If you enjoy ghosts, religious horror (is that a genre?), and foreign films, this is an excellent choice!
All my best, readers,