Have you ever seen a deglamorized Enchong Dee?

Can you imagine the handsome Enchong Dee looking unkempt, his hair sticking out here and there, his goatee hanging limp from his chin? That’s the surprise award-winning director Lawrence Fajardo has in store for Enchong’s followers in the teen horror film “The Strangers,” an entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

The film’s producer, lawyer Joji Alonso, took a risk in deglamorizing Enchong in this  tale about the aswang and other things that go bump in the night, especially in the provinces.

“It was tough because he’s very good-looking,” recalls Alonso.  “It was also a very physical role, very demanding.  But he delivered.”

Tough competition


The lady producer also knows her film faces tough competition.

“We are up against a film that has received acclaim abroad and another that tackles history with a budget we could only dream of,” she admits.  “We are up against a franchise that has been there for more than a decade. “

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The usual perception about horror films is also a stumbling block.

“We are in a horror genre and the usual perception is that we are just out to scare people.  So it will be tough,” adds Alonso.

But she believes  “The Strangers” has a lot more to offer than just shivers down one’s spine this Christmas season.

“On its own merit, I believe it deserves awards.  It is a finely-crafted film with a great story and even greater storytelling achieved by Direk Law (Lawrence Fajardo). The cast (also made up of Cherry Pie Picache,  Julia Montes, Enrique Gil, JM de Guzman and others) are good.  All actors have their `MOMENT.’ They caught me by surprise.”

MMFF 2012: "The Strangers"
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How the movie came to be

Alonso’s decision to come up with a horror film after producing dramas and comedies was not spur of the moment.  The concept of “The Strangers” started two-and-a-half years ago, when Alonso asked  scriptwriter Bing Lao to ask his students to come up with a concept that could be developed into a full-blown script.

Alonso submitted the concept to the MMFF two years ago but pulled out since “I felt I wasn’t ready yet to join such a big event.”

'The Strangers' trailerCheck out the trailer from the horror film 'The Strangers' starring Enchong Dee, Enrique Gil and Julia Montes.

After studying film festival statistics as far back as 2001, she realized she needed more time to prepare.

Now that it’s done, Alonso is confident “The Strangers” will draw in the holiday crowd.

“We have the brightest young stars in different soap operas seen together for the very first time in roles they have never done before,” she explains.

It’s also as Filipino as can be, since the story centers on a family and what the members do to save each other when they get lost in a strange village.

“It’s not simply a horror film. It will offer the views a big surprise,” Alonso promises.

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