The Philippines, 2022, 114’, Filipino
Directed by: Lawrence Fajardo
Story: Byron Bryant, Law Fajardo
Screenplay: Byron Bryant
Photography (b/w): Joshua A. Reyles
Editing: Law Fajardo
Production Design: Law Fajardo
Music: Peter Legaste
Sound: Immanuel Verona
Producers: Vic Del Rosario III, Veronique Del Rosario-Corpus
Executive Producer: Vic Del Rosario Jr.
Cast: John Arcilla (Gemo), Cindy Miranda (Trina), Sid Lucero (Dan), Nathalie Hart (Lala)
Date of First Release in Territory: January 21st, 2022
The conceit of Reroute is a tale as old as time. A girl and a guy get lost in a remote area. A stranger offers help and takes them in. Of course, nothing goes right. In the hands of a filmmaker like Lawrence Fajardo, attuned to the precarities required of a thriller, this story opens up a well of possibilities: where explosive turns are similar to swerving up a steep road and into a minefield.
An overhead shot of a winding road opens the film. Dan (Sid Lucero) and Trina (Cindy Miranda), are on their way to see Dan’s father. They are arguing. Dan is jealous, Trina is tired of having the same conversation over and over. Later, an unexpected roadblock forces them to take another road. Dan, already brimming with toxic aggression, insists that he knows the way. He grew up here. His friends used to ride their motorcycles around these parts. Dan asks for directions to appease Trina. Yes, they are on the right way but a man tells them that the road is part of a private property. They should turn around. By this time, Dan’s car is already sputtering. Not a good sign. It breaks down in the middle of nowhere. In the morning, a stranger named Gemo – animal carcass slung around his neck – emerges from the woods and offers them help. He tells them he’ll radio for a mechanic and they can spend the night at his home. His “wife” Lala is unusually subservient to Gemo. What is supposed to be a quick stop to get help becomes a living hell, not only for Dan and Trina, but for Gemo and Lala as well. Shot in black and white, Reroute unfurls in a wooded area that only amplifies its sense of desolation. The sparseness of the set – an old echoing house in the forest that you would mistake to be abandoned, so far from human contact – only adds to the unsettling atmosphere that fleshes out the intentions of these curious characters.
But what’s even more curious about Reroute is its positioning as a sexy crime thriller. The film is part of Viva Films’ unstated revival of Filipino sexy films – produced quick and in succession – for their streaming platform Vivamax. The presence of sex steers Reroute into uncanny territory. It provides the perfect tension. Are their motivations purely carnal or is there something else, desperate to claw out of the surface? Byron Bryant’s screenplay is given more nightmare fuel by the exceptional performances by John Arcilla and Sid Lucero, whose characters Gemo and Dan are toxic masculinity made flesh. The monochromatic visual emphasizes the primal act at the heart of the film. Reroute could have been any of Viva’s sexy productions but Fajardo is already an expert when it comes to putting audiences at the edge of their seats. He tempers this in Reroute, letting the events play out until we’re just dying to see what’s next.
Lawrence Fajardo’s Amok, a series of interconnected stories culminating in a tragedy at a busy Manila intersection, premiered at the 2010 Cinemalaya Film Festival where it won Best Editing. Fajardo returned the year after with Shackled (Posas), about the corrupt world of the Philippine jail system, and won Best Film. His succeeding films were noteworthy forays into different genres (such as the romantic film Kintsugi) but his recent string of films for Viva Films – such as the action thriller A Hard Day and the sexy thriller Reroute – is a return to form for the director.
2006 – Mom’s Hustle
2011 – Amok
2011 – Xdeal
2012 – Shackled
2015 – Invisible
2020 – Kintsugi
2021 – Nerisa
2021 – Mahjong Nights
2021 – A Hard Day
2022 – Reroute