From a Cebuano actress as one of its stars to a story that spotlights Filipino folklore, here are all the major reasons to go watch Nocebo at the cinemas.
Finally, the commercial release of the much-anticipated suspense horror film Nocebo comes tomorrow, January 18. After its national premiere at the QCinema International Film Festival last year where it was warmly received by Filipino fans, Nocebo unleashes its mystical power with wider screenings in local cinemas courtesy of TBA Studios as its distributor. While some of you have already known about our very own Chai Fonacier, bannering Filipino talent as one of the film’s lead stars, there are other reasons why Nocebo should definitely be at the top of your watchlist. Here are some of them that will help you decide and hopefully get you seated.
The Thrilling Premise
Filipinos looking for an exciting experience and suspenseful watch will not be disappointed with Nocebo. It follows the life of Christine, a London-based fashion designer, as it gets upended by a Filipino nanny named Diana whom she hires to care for her family while she’s suffering from a curious tick-related illness. Diana helps relieve her suffering through traditional folk healing techniques, but in the process, reveals a horrifying truth about her employer’s mysterious condition and the reason why she is there.
Nocebo’s premise blends folk, natural, and psychological horror with a compelling subplot and satisfying twist that all genre fans have got to witness. Featuring Filipino folklore and shamanism while tackling some political themes such as capitalism, the fast fashion industry, and human exploitation, Nocebo packs a riveting story that will put you at the edge of your seat.
While the cast ensemble boasts of industry heavyweights Eva Green and Mark Strong, the stunning performance of the proud Cebuano talent, Chai Fonacier, is another powerful reason to see Nocebo on January 18. The award-winning theater, movie, and television actress has first flexed her acting prowess and sheer versatility in films like Born Beautiful, Sakaling Maging Tayo, Miss Bulalacao, Pauwi Na, and Patay na Si Hesus for which she won a best supporting actress trophy from the Film Academy of the Philippines.
“Being the only Cebuano in the team at this phase of the shoot, it’s quite a big load on my back, and it’s scary,” Chai told NYLON Manila in early 2021 just a month after the announcement of her Nocebo casting. “But it’s one that I’m excited and honored to take on. We Bisaya don’t get a lot of proper representation in local media, so this to me is huge.”
It really is a big deal having Chai represent Filipinos on an international film where she is one of the leads, with a critically praised performance to boot. The New York Times calls Chai’s performance as “excellent” and her as having a “knack for coiled tension” while other critics take note of her “superb,” “well-measured,” and “nuanced” portrayal. Even BAFTA winner Eva Green took to online last year to express how she’s blown away by Chai’s performance. Oh, and another Filipino actor, Anthony Falcon, also joins Chai in the cast list as her husband, Jomar.
If you’re still having second thoughts if Nocebo should be your next trip to the cinemas, then you should know that if you’re looking for quality storytelling, this mystical suspense thriller definitely has it. For one, its director, Lorcan Finnegan, is an award-winning Irish filmmaker that’s known to be a masterful craftsman of inventive genre movies like his equally terrifying sci-fi feature Vivarium (which premiered and won an accolade at the Cannes Critics’ Week) and his celebrated genre-defying eco-thriller debut, Without Name. All of these he made with his frequent collaborator Garret Shanley who also penned Nocebo. So, you’re assured that in the horror department, you won’t be disappointed. Filipino creatives also had great contributions to the production of Nocebo, including Cebuano filmmaker Ara Chawdhury, who was tapped to write additional scenes and dialogue to capture the Filipino culture and mysticism with utmost sincerity, and Filipino composer Jose Buencamino who did the film’s haunting original score.
A HISTORY-MAKING FILM
While unbeknownst to some, Nocebo also marks a historic feat of being the first co-production effort between Ireland and the Philippines. Nocebo is produced by Brunella Cocchiglia of Lovely Productions (Ireland), Emily Leo of Wild Swim Films (UK), and Filipino producers Bianca Balbuena and Bradley Liew of the local production outfit Epicmedia. Shot in Dublin and Manila, Nocebo is also one of the first projects to ever be supported by Film Development Council of the Philippines’ (FDCP) International Co-production Fund (ICOF) in 2020. So, remember that when you watch Nocebo, you’re not just enjoying a horror movie, you’re also participating in one historic event.
A CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED WORK
It goes without saying that critical reviews should not be the sole determining factor of whether or not you should watch a film. But, in one way or another, it gives you a panoramic view of what a movie holds and in turn, helps you decide if it’s worth your time and attention.
In the case of Nocebo, while the reception is slightly divisive, more critics are acknowledging the film’s elegantly chilling formal approach, highlighting its “striking visuals” and “stylish camerawork” while also praising the excellent performances and its absorbing contemporary message. “Nocebo is an accomplished film, as suggestive as it is disturbing,” writes CineEuropa. “A film that will likely stay with us long after its screening.”
Nocebo has also toured in different prestigious film festivals around the globe having its world premiere at BeyondFest in Los Angeles, the highest attended genre film festival in the U.S, and its European premiere at the coveted and competitive Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia. All of these to tell you that Nocebo is indeed deserving of your attention and one that offers a completely different experience you should not miss.
Head over to TBA Studios’ social media page to get informed about Nocebo’s screening schedule and the cinemas where you can watch it.