EXCLUSIVE: Charo Santos And Bea Alonzo Topbill A Horror Film Like No Other
“When Eerie was pitched to me, I was drawn to the story. I felt very confident about my director, that Mikhail [Red] had a vision for the film and that he knew what he was talking about. And so my gut said I should take the project. I wanted to work with him,” Charo Santos tells Metro.Style.
It was a sunny Saturday and the executive suite at ABS-CBN was charged with an electric excitement: the place was filled with ad and promo staffers, editors, and stylists who were all busy working on this exclusive digital cover shoot and the movie’s press conference later in the afternoon. It was a full day ahead for Charo and her Eerie co-star Bea Alonzo.
On Bea: Top by Joseph and blazer by Chantal | On Charo: Top, jacket, and pants from Joseph and jewels from Diagolf
Charo, the entertainment and media conglomerate’s Chief Content Officer, current president of ABS-CBN University, and Philippine cinema icon, looked regal in a crisp black and white button-down. Her incredibly long list of achievements and her sheer powerful presence can easily make one feel intimidated, but she was quick to dispel any tension by cracking jokes and making light remarks.
When asked if she likes watching horror films, she laughed and shared that, these days, she prefers things that are lighthearted in nature. “Lately, I don’t want to scare myself anymore. When I was much younger, I liked watching horror films of different themes. Paranormal events, ghost stories, demonic possessions—name it,” she says. This somehow makes her a good judge when it comes to a film that falls under this genre.
"When I was much younger, I liked watching horror films of different themes" - Charo
A good horror movie goes far beyond scarefest, and the fact that Eerie has a complex, layered story is reason enough for Charo to think highly of this project. “The character I play is the headmistress of an all-girls school, Santa Lucia Academy,” Charo shares. “She represents the institution and the traditions it espouses. She makes sure that the rules and regulations are observed by the students. At the same time, she’s teaching young students who are now seeing a bigger world out there. Her conflict is balancing tradition and compassion and understanding what humanity is all about.”
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mikhail Red, the Star Cinema-produced movie explores a gripping mystery that shows this convent school be shaken to its core. In terms of building this bleak and dreary world of ghosts and death, Charo points out that Mikhail did an excellent job. “Mik has an understanding of the film language and how to tell a story visually. Unlike books or articles, in film, you use visuals and that’s how you tell the narrative and I thought Birdshot was really good. He put all the elements and took all the elements and put them into a cohesive form. It was very engaging. But outside of the thrill and emotions the story provided, there was also a lot of substance in the story. Genre films ang mga ginagawa ni Mik e. Mik uses the medium of film to send out a message.”
“Mik [Mikhail Red] has an understanding of the film language and how to tell a story visually" - Charo
On Charo: Clothes from Joseph and jewels by Diagolf | On Bea: Pants by Joseph
Being no stranger to acting in horror and indie films, the seasoned actress notes that while carrying out her role was intense and challenging, making the film itself was a breeze. “I had fun doing the shoot. It was a breeze. The production was very organized. Mik was a very efficient, organized director. He storyboarded the entire film. He had the movie in his mind,” Charo shares. “So as actors, we have to come to the set prepared, know our lines, understand our characters, our motivations. He knew which buttons to push. He knows all the elements. He was in control of all the elements from the cinematography, lighting, image composition, the actors, the design.”
Bea, who plays clairvoyant guidance counselor Patricia in Eerie, graced the 29th Singapore International Film Festival in a gorgeous Patty Ang number last December, to mark the world premiere of their upcoming horror-thriller film. It was Bea’s first foray into the international film circuit. And she was extremely pleased to share that the audiences abroad enjoyed the movie, judging from their gasps and screams and even tears. “They liked it. Takot na takot sila. Hindi lang mata ko ‘yung bukas nu’ng nanonood ako, I was also listening—may mga tumitili talaga, may umiiyak. They were really reacting to the film. Plus, walang umalis. Kasi ‘di ba ‘pag festival, you’re allowed to go and see other movies, so tinapos nila. I’m very happy about it. It’s humbling.”
"[People at the Singapore International Film Festiva] were really reacting to the film... I’m very happy about it. It’s humbling” - Bea
This project is something Bea has never done before, and she feels grateful for the opportunity to have a movie like this added to her dossier. She tells Metro.Style, “To tell you honestly, when Eerie was pitched to me, I was very scared to say yes to it because I haven’t done a horror film before. I was so afraid to get into a very dark place. When you’re acting, creating a character, you have to dive deep into what the character is going through. Patricia’s character is deep. Natatakot ako na i-tap. I don’t watch horror films, to tell you honestly. Matatakutin kasi ako. But ito kasi, I can’t categorize it as just a horror film. It also talks about lots of social issues like bullying, depression, suicide, suicidal tendencies. It has a lot of social relevance. It’s not your typical horror flick.”
Although she was unsure at first, Bea shared that it was the prospect of working with Charo which really made her take the role. When she was approached to do the script, the actress was already working on two other films, First Love where she starred opposite Aga Muhlach and Kasal with actors Paulo Avellino and Derek Ramsay. “I was told that Ma’am Charo will be doing it, of course, hindi ko naman kayang palagpasin ‘yung opportunity, ‘di ba? When I finally read the script, ang ganda. Buong-buo siya. It was so well-written and I fell in love with it even more. Alam ni Mik ‘yung material niya, walang loopholes. Ang ganda ng pag-put together ng characters. So I couldn’t say no anymore to it. I just said, ‘Sige, I’ll do it.’ I just had to jump.”
"I can’t categorize it as just a horror film. It has a lot of social relevance" - Bea
As one of the most loved actresses in local showbiz today, Bea proves her mettle yet again with her work in Eerie. Not one to rely on fame and her legions of devoted fans, she put in the work and committed wholeheartedly to the project. “We went through some workshops. The workshops with Mik and the other characters served as a script reading. Mik was very careful with the movie’s tone. Gusto niya halos pare-pareho kami ng energy level, except for Jake’s (Cuenca) character na tiga-labas ng eskwelahan. He was very careful with how the characters talk. Hindi ko alam kung mapapansin mo na stoic ‘yung tone ng pananalita ng lahat ng characters.” Bea also did some character mapping to trace Patricia’s journey and mental state.
After the first round of questions for this interview, Bea was assisted and brought to the office studio to join Charo. She stepped into the setup and did a few test shots beside her co-star. Watching these two high-caliber actresses together is a sight to behold: a Philippine cinema icon and a brilliant, talented young actress—both fascinating women—come together to help redefine and boost the local film industry. While Eerie is indeed an excellent piece of cinematic storytelling moviegoers should be excited about, having Charo Santos and Bea Alonzo as its lead stars makes it all the more a thrill to see.
Produced by Geolette Esguerra
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Creative direction by Chookie Cruz
Liaison editor: Grace Libero-Cruz
Makeup by RB Chanco (Charo) and Ting Duque (Bea)
Hairstyling by John Valle (Charo) and Jerry Javier (Bea)
Styling by Veron Gonzalez (Charo) and Rex Atienza, assisted by Jowi Guzman
Video producer: Joan Ko
Videography by Giancarlo Escamillas
Special thanks to Beyond Flowers PH