The first thing you need to know about Nabubulok is that it’s not a mystery at all. It neither confirms nor denies that a crime may have taken place in the house of an American whose Filipino wife may or may not be missing.
This approach could have been easily frustrating but thanks to an ingenious execution, Nabubulok is an obtuse yet intriguing thriller. The story is told through the perspective of characters around the family as the plot progresses through their doubts and suspicions. This in turn creates tension that flips the table on the murderer as he becomes a target and a victim of circumstance.
Lead by Gina Alajar, the cast does a great job in further suspending the obvious. They know something has happened, but they’re dealing with it the wrong way.
The camerawork and lighting put the viewers in the dark. You’ll feel like an outsider looking in, similar to watching a news story unfold through witnesses.
While all of this makes for a different kind of thriller that you wouldn’t see in mainstream Philippine cinema, the movie’s own subjective narrative often weighs down the story.
Nabubulok commits to its premise, but this also leaves certain parts of the story underdeveloped. It feels like the movie is giving you the runaround and then wraps up with a conclusion that breaks its own spell.
Nonetheless, Nabubulok remains an engrossing picture hiding a relevant sentiment. Locals make snap judgments and spread rumors triggered, echoing the Filipino’s tendency to revert to their kin and alienate others.
Nabubulok (The Decaying)
Nabubulok is an engrossing thriller thanks to its clever execution and great performances, but its weighed down by its own subjective narrative.