Remington is a hopeless homophobe. As a child, he would taunt homosexuals without much provocation. He would jeer, snicker and point his fingers as though he saw a clown. One fateful day, he finds a transvestite (Roderick Paulate) kneeling before a tomb. As has been his habit, he shouts and pokes funs at him. But the victim who bears wizardly powers wasn’t amused. With dagger looks, he casts a spell on the young boy, “When you turn adult, you will turn gay.” Thunder shakes the skies and his hexing hangs over Remington’s shoulders like a scepter about to engulf him. But time keeps the unrepentant child imprudent.
Fifteen years hence, Remington (Martin Escudero) is a strapping lad, active and facile. He detests his parent’s plan sending him to Manila for college. He’s reluctant to be anything else but his unambitious father Eduardo (John Regala) who mans the family’s carinderia. Meanwhile, he meets beautiful Hannah (Lauren Young) whose father recently died. Unfortunately for Remington, Hannah’s dear departed dad was among our protagonist’s victims. Though this doesn’t bother Hannah much, Remington (who’s infatuated with Hannah) doesn’t get points from his shady past.
There’s one more thing troubling the quaint town. A serial killer has sowed fear among local folk, claiming his 5th victim, all of them beauty parlor-operating homosexuals. Who’s the next victim? Remington’s mother, Officer Fe Martinez (Janice de Belen) is knee deep in the case. And the gay community waits with bated breath who dies next?
As clock strikes 12 however, Remington (who turns 21) notices salient changes in his manner of speech, movement or garment choice. He is suddenly torn between Hannah who’s becoming receptive to his attention and his best friend Jigs (Kerbie Zamora) whom he suddenly finds attractive. What is going on here? Will Remington fall victim to a gaydar-toting murderer (who either fries his victims or turns them to dust)?
Told in brisk fashion, “Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington” is clearly a metaphor on the bigotry that befalls the third sex and how the latter will eventually get their ascendancy in the scheme of things. After all, discrimination is injustice and a movement (i.e. a form of “uprising”), as the movie implies, would find its way in a rightful society, or would it? If anything, the film provides a hopeful chord that allows an under-the-radar sententious moral, and I don’t mean excessive moralizing. One can never get enough lessons for “gender discrimination”. The good news?
The film stands on feral ground where its entertainment value is concerned. The film is hilarious yet thought provoking. It’s hard not to get besotted with our hero/anti-hero Remington, marvelously played by the incandescent Martin Escudero. As Remington, Escudero is a pleasure to watch. The scene where he delivers a beauty contestant's speech is highly nuanced and insightful. He lights up the screen yet he never goes overboard. He curiously exhibits an innocence as well as circumvention that should otherwise contradict itself, but the insightful writing has made this plausible. After all, Remington is besieged by a duplicitous character: the woman-lover and the reluctant homosexual.
What further buoys this flick is its adorable supporting cast: Daniel Fernando, Leandro Baldemor, Odette Khan (as the town mayor) and of course, there’s Eugene Domingo who cameos as roller-skating Mrs. Montano, Hannah’s mom who’s still dazed from her hubby’s demise. The big welcome surprise? The utterly winsome turn of John Regala who plays Eduardo, Remington’s father, who’s willing to do the ultimate sacrifice to save his “gay-now, straight-later” son. Regala never displayed the excesses pathognomonic of his career. After all, what could be worse than growing up ridiculed and chastised for being inherently limpwristed? Not that it’s even a personal choice.
I do have misgivings about the flagrant, unremitting sward speak, as though all homosexuals are flaming queens and engage in parlor-speak. The gay lingo tends to eventually get heavy-handed, thus alienating and as with most things, systems work best with moderation. There’s a hint of stereotyping that’s probably required to underscore emphasis? But this is a tenuous idea. I have to admit that the laughs were not as simultaneous nor successive as Marlon Rivera’s “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank” which was hilarious even on second viewing. But this isn’t saying it isn’t worth our hard earned money. I am just being didactic. This is director Jade Castro's better realized and most accomplished work. And make no mistake, this is a superior film.
Beware of the spiteful homosexual. He might carry irreversible spells. Roderick Paulate (above) once again shines in a head-turning, spine tingling cameo.