Fantasia 2019: Mystery of the Night

A woman raised in a mystical forest experiences love and scorn for the first time in Mystery of the Night. In 1900 colonial Philippines, a pregnant Filipino woman is left for dead in an enchanted forest by Anselmo (Allan Paule), the mayor the nearby Spanish settlement, who soon ends up dead by the mystical beings in the woods. Before dying, the woman gives birth to a baby girl, who is raised by the various forest Nymphs. Many years later, Anselmo’s son Domingo (Benjamin Alves) enters the forest for a customary hunting trip and has a brief love affair with the now-grown child, who Domingo names Maria (Solenn Heussaff). However, when Maria is rejected when she follows Domingo back home, she transforms into the mythical aswang to avenge her pain.

Inspired by Filipino folklore, Mystery of the Night is a horror-tinged fable from director Adolfo Alix Jr. The story of the film is told in three pretty distinct acts, beginning with the extended prologue, followed by Maria experiencing the love and later scorn of Domingo, and finally her bloody revenge as the grotesque and bat-like aswang. It is in this third act that Mystery of the Night turns from a somewhat slow-paced fable to a full-on horror film, with some impressive, yet still somewhat cheesy looking, creature effects. It is this final section of the film that makes Mystery of the Night worth checking out, though it can be a bit of a slog to reach that point.

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Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).