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Horror movie references curfews under Marcos’ Martial Law and COVID-19 lockdowns

WHAT would it be like living in Manila if, once midnight falls, no one is safe? That is the thesis of Dodo Dayao’s horror film, Midnight in a Perfect World, set to show on Upstream starting Jan. 29.

Starring Glaiza de Castro and Jasmine Curtis-Smith, the film is set in a dystopian version of Metro Manila where people mysteriously disappear during nightly blackouts at midnight. The two women and two of their friends (played by Anthony Falcon and Dino Pastrano) get caught in a blackout outside and must find a safe house to survive — only, the safe house they thought was safe, isn’t.

Though presented as a dystopian version of the Philippine capital, Mr. Dayao also said the film is an allegory on the Martial Law years under Ferdinand Marcos, and the present.

“I had a dream about this a few years ago,” Mr. Dayao told reporters in a Zoom press conference on Jan. 25, saying that while he was crafting a short film about living in today’s Philippines, he turned to that dream and decided to make it a full-length film referencing Martial Law and the current state of the country.

“When I remember that dream, what I associate with it were the curfews during Martial Law,” he explained.

During the Martial Law years (1972-1981), people who were found outside from midnight to 4 a.m. would be arrested and held in the nearest military camp overnight, with the chance of being held in prison if no valid or compelling reason was found for their being caught outside during curfew hours.

Similarly, the lockdowns imposed last year to curb the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country introduced strict curfews in Metro Manila and other provinces. Ms. De Castro, during the press conference, noted that she was scared whenever the nightly COVID-19 curfews arrived because one of her friends was arrested for being outside 10 minutes after the curfew started.

“Martial Law for someone so young… came across as a ghost story,” Mr. Dayao said, noting that he was still very young during the Martial Law era.

“It may be a martial allegory but it is also a haunted house story,” he is quoted as saying in a press release.

Midnight in a Perfect World premiered last year during the QCinema International Film Festival. It was produced by Globe Studios and Epicmedia Productions, the same team that produced the Metro Manila Film Festival 2020 Best Picture Fan Girl, directed by Antoinette Jadaone.

Midnight will stream on from Jan. 29 to Feb. 29. Tickets are available via

Watch the film’s trailer here: (4) Midnight In A Perfect World Official Trailer – YouTube. — Zsarlene B. Chua

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