CHARO Santos did her very first movie in 1976, “Itim”, when she was only 20 years old. It was directed by Mike de Leon, then 28 years old, and won her the best actress award in the Asian Filmfest that year. Now, 43 years later, she makes another horror film, “Eerie”, directed by Mikhail “Mik” Red, 27 years old. So we tell her she comes full circle from Mike to Mik.
In “Eerie”, she plays Sor Alice, a strict and overbearing old-fashioned nun in an exclusive Catholic girls’ school. Her foil is Bea Alonzo as Pat, a guidance counselor with more progressive thinking. How is it being directed by a neophyte filmmaker like Mikhail?
“He’s okay, a fearless young filmmaker who’s not afraid to experiment and get out of his comfort zone to come up with compelling stories that will engage his audience,” she says. “I was impressed when we started the shooting kasi, just like Mike de Leon, he has a shotlist. May storyboard siya and alam na niya in his mind how the whole production will come out. He knows his craft, so alam niyang ginagawa niya. He’s very organized, very efficient. He shot the film chronologically, according to the sequential narrative, so he has already timed everything and all of us, we have to come to the set prepared.”
How come the story is set in the early 1990s? “Kasi it happened before the advent of social media. We are not yet expressing or asserting ourselves, we’re just all busy conforming to what’s expected of us. Ganito 'yung set up doon sa catholic school where the story is set and where a student killed herself and haunts the place. Guilt motivates our behavior then. May set rules and when you don’t obey it, may punishment. Ang ganda rin ng period setting, pati texture ng cinematography, bagay sa horror movie.”
And how is it working with Bea Alonzo for the first time? “You know, when I first met Bea, she was just 13 years old, so nasubaybayan ko ang growth niya, ang pag-asenso ng career niya. She’s an intelligent actress, intuitive, and very generous. She’s one of our young actresses today who I really admire and I’ve really looked forward to working with her. She works hard and comes to the set prepared, very professional, always in character, so shooting the movie with her is a breeze.”
She won best actress for “Itim”. Does she think she might win another award for “Eerie”? “It’s not for me to say. Even with ‘Itim’, I never expected I’d win. In ‘Eerie’, I just gave my best. But as you know, kanya-kanyang mata, perspective and preferences 'yan. So it’s all up to the jurors at wala 'yan sa aking mga kamay. But more than anything else, I want people to watch the film. This is our first co-production with a Singaporean company and if it would succeed at the box office, then that means, we can do more movies with them. So sana talaga, maging hit siya not only here but also in the other Asian countries where it will open simultaneously.”