DOTGA: Da One That Ghost Away is about Carmela (Kim Chiu), the granddaughter of a famous espritista. Unfortunately, she hasn’t inherited the powers of her grandmother, so she instead runs a scam service that involves her friends dressing up as ghosts and being chased away. Rich guy Jack Colmenares (Enzo Pineda) offers Carmela one million pesos to exorcise the ghosts that reside in a mansion that he inherited from his parents. With a house that’s about to be repossessed, Carmela takes up the offer, and she and her friends end up taking on some real evil spirits.
To illustrate the level of humor we’re working at: the film seems to take a lot of pleasure in saying the name “Jack Colmenares” a lot, just because the first two syllables are a homophone for masturbation. At one point, Carmela writes him name on a while board, and those first two syllables are written in uppercase letters, just to further highlight the “joke.” It isn’t really funny the first time they do it, but they keep doing it anyway. It gets to a point where you have to admire the dedication to the idea, in spite of how lazy and stupid it is.
But really, the bulk of this movie is built around the ghosts, which are almost all references to popular horror movies. In fact, the movie will name the references. The character might see a creepy looking doll in a room, and rather than let the reference just sit there, somebody will helpfully say, “Annabelle?” The threats in Ju-on, Child’s Play, The Ring, Ghost Bride and The Conjuring all show up, the movie skating by on the expected recognition of these popular properties. Now, these properties are actually rather ripe for spoofing, but the film largely settles for the incongruity of their showing up in this film.
Narratively, there’s very little to hold on to. The film establishes the main characters as scammers, so it’s a little difficult to find sympathy for their plight. One of the major subplots involves Carmela’s best friend Jeje (Ryan Bang) being in love with her. But there isn’t anything to that, either, since it’s just another story of a guy holding a torch for a girl that doesn’t really seem interested in him. There’s a pretty big twist near the end, all playing toward some emotion that feels completely out of place in this rather ridiculous movie.
Production values are pretty bad. It really feels like the movie was done on the quick and on the cheap. At most, one can at least see the work that went into some of the costumes. Overall, it just looks really bad. Kim Chiu, to her credit, dives headlong into this role, seemingly doing everything that is asked of her, and more. Ryan Bang is saddled with a pretty thankless role that just pretty much has him being jealous and a downer. It isn’t very fun. Enzo Pineda leans in to the comedic extremes of his character, and it just about works out.
DOTGA: Da One That Ghost Away is exhausting. It doesn’t really feel like there’s much of a movie there. It feels more like something a bunch of high schoolers tossed together over the weekend. There’s little indication of care and thought put into the concept or the humor of the piece. It just pulls from the zeitgeist, tossing together whatever reference it can think of, hoping that the identification in itself might count as a joke. And that’s just not good enough.