If you are a mature Christian and have been for how many years now, chances are, there were times that you refrain from watching horror films or have been discouraged from doing so because you might get a spirit of fear from watching it.
Whilst it is true (I in particular also refrain from watching horror films and discourage others from doing so especially if they are new in the faith), I do watch them from time to time, especially if it intrigues me enough to do so.
In this case, Seklusyon did it. It intrigued me enough to risk getting scared just to get the point behind the film. While, in fact it is a masterpiece in terms of cinematography, plot and other technicalities, I had more appreciation of the symbolisms behind it, the hard truths and extremely important points the film was trying to convey.
Firstly, some thoughts on the film. There are some very intriguing, disturbing things that the film tried to convey. These things are truths too hard for everyone to swallow, especially the “religious” sects. But these things are truth and we can’t ignore them. I thought to myself: “Could they have used another genre to portray such important truths?”
These truths are scary. Especially if you know what happens behind the scenes. Behind those facades you see in church, behind those fake smiles, fake priests, molesters, liars, “faith healers” and superstition and superstitious people that ironically surround the church, stand on the stage, preach at the pulpit, etc. Well, they could’ve used drama or comedy to illustrate them but I believe the “horror” genre conveyed them best.
[SPOILERS START HERE]
The film starts casually introducing our main character, Miguel at the confession box and confessing his sins to the priest inside. The priest then asks, paraphrased: “May mga nais ka pa bang banggitin na hindi mo pa nasasabi?”
And that’s the beginning of the film. Now, it’s more of an exposition of what Seklusyon is. It’s basically secluding yourself from the outside world because, and I haphazardly quote, “pinakamalakas ang atake ng mga demonyo sa ilang araw bago ka ganap na maging isang pari.”
If you look at the film and its message through just face value, you would not get the point entirely. It is not an attack against the Catholic church but an attack against hypocrisy in all the “spiritual institutions” that supposedly guide us and dictates our moral compasses.
Scene transitions to the part where a priest arrives at a town where this healer, Anghela resides. The weirdness of this healer is very much evident but the people still follow her and worship her even. There and then, you know something’s wrong. The priest is skeptical of this and brings it to the attention of the Bishop in hopes that the church will do something about it but is thwarted by the fact that the Bishop is already compromised.
They treated this “healer” Anghela highly and worshipped her as a god. You know there and then that something is twisted in their doctrine. That the institution supposedly teaching us to worship The One True God is teaching their people that it’s okay to worship the girl simply because “sugo siya ng panginoon.”
Eventually, we arrive at the place of the Seklusyon somewhere in Luzon. Sandoval, the caretaker of the place warns the priests-in-training of the dangers of the seclusion and other rules of the place. Here, Miguel encounters three other priests-in-training namely, Fabian, Marco and Carlo. It doesn’t take long until these guys are attacked in their rooms by ghosts. No, not just your ordinary ghosts but eventually revealed as the ghosts of their pasts — their unconfessed sins.
There and then, the Lord reminded me of this verse:
“But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”
— Numbers 32:23
Eventually, it was exposed that the caretaker, Sandoval was previously a priest and for some reason, is not a priest anymore.
Pretty soon, the Anghela and the nun together with her, Sister Cecilla needed to seek refuge in the seclusion due to the death of the young girl’s parents. This is when the devil’s attacks against the priests-in-training intensified. Ever present to help them however is the new girl, Anghela.
However, if you look closely at the progression of the events, the attacks against the priests-in-training became less and less the more they believe Anghela and her words. These are sugar-coated words that sound nice but are definitely wrong. She starts saying to one of the guys who struggles with gluttony that “God doesn’t want him to suffer. So it’s okay to just indulge into what he likes.” The same thing happens to one who struggles with pedophilia, Anghela indulges his desire by saying, “Gusto mo laro tayo?”
Little by little, you’d see that what she was doing is tempting each and everyone of them to fall for the devil’s trap with carefully packaged words claiming that these are indeed from God.
Our main protagonist, Miguel notices these and rejects them and stays true to his God-given calling. However, as Miguel noticed that his companions are all compromised and that Anghela is indeed the devil-incarnate, he almost falls pray to them. In the end, he does the right thing. That is to destroy the child that the devil possessed and give up his priesthood as the institution is terribly corrupted and already fell to the deceiver’s traps.
There were several verses that the Lord reminded me while watching the film.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
— 2 Timothy 3:1-5
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
— Matthew 7:15
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
— Matthew 24:24
In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came on me there. I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man.[a] From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal. He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy.
And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the Israelites are doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.”
Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there.
And he said to me, “Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here.” So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and unclean animals and all the idols of Israel. 11 In front of them stood seventy elders of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising.
He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.’” Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.”
Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz. He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.”
He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east.
He said to me, “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the people of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually arouse my anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose! 18 Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.”
— Ezekiel 8:1-17
In the end, all the priests-in-training became full-pledged priests. But we, the viewers know that they don’t deserve to be in a position of power especially over God’s people. They effectively became servants of the devil the moment they strayed away from from the Word of God.
The Lord reminded me of these things and the harsh truths to it. Corruption strikes even in the place the people should’ve considered safe — the church. Why is it that a lot of the people who commit premarital sex, pedophilia, molestation, and a lot of detestable things have been done, sadly by priests, nuns, pastors, ministers, etc. It is simply because of compromise. In the movie, the devil even said there that the people choose what’s easy rather than what’s right. And you know what, that is a harsh truth we need to accept. We need to accept it in order to stay away from it. We need to accept it in order for us to change. Identify it so that we will not stray from the path of truth.
A lot of false prophets will arise. Some are already even in places of authority in the church. But, will you do what is right? Will you set your heart right with God? Do you spend the time required to learn the right doctrine so as not to stray away from the truth? I watched the film and checked myself. Is there any unconfessed sin in my life? The film was so scary because it is possibly the status of a lot of us. That we, have compromised and have not taken God seriously. That we do the easy and not the right thing. That we may have idols of our own and that we have replaced God as king over our lives.
After watching this film, these are the questions I came to ask. These are my revelations and realizations. I have lots and lots to share but I seem to convey my point better through speaking rather than writing this in a blog. Perhaps I’ll write about those some other time. For now, I leave you with this.
Have you watched the film yet? If you do, let me know what your thoughts are. If you haven’t, you have until January 10 to catch up on some of our MMFF films. I highly recommend this one though.