In Bilanggo Sa Dilim (Solid Video) Mike de Leon has taken an extraneous source, John Fowles novel The Collector (1963) as the basis for his story and judging from the onscreen evidence, it is the filmmaker's bravura orchestration of the video format's exasperatingly restraint instruments that saves the adaptation from an obviously literary premise. In one singular instance he completely subverts the language of film when in the climactic chase scene, he cuts to a high-angle slow motion shot of Marissa (Cherie Gil) and Eddie (Joel Torre), wherein basic cinematographic conditioning ascribes a connotation of detachment for high angles and that of relaxation for slow motion takes but in Bilanggo Sa Dilim the combined usage of both techniques produced a startling realization of the beauty inherent in outbursts of violence. This is not in itself an original idea but it points to something that has never been carefully considered before in local practice, that video, instead of acting as an adjunct to film can in fact attain more effective peaks of expression by breaking free of the rules of conventional usage, in the manner of the more advanced items in cinema. That in itself should ensure more than just incidental stature in an already reputable body of aesthetic achievements in Philippine cinema.
In his past films, Mike de Leon used to rely on the relative expertise of his performers as a given, in Bilanggo Sa Dilim he has been able to draw out harmonious ensemble acting from his cast. In addition, he allowed one of the protagonists to develop with a sympathetic sensuality that forges a face of violation and ambiguous sympathy coupled with the appropriate resources of Cherie Gil resulting in the first honest to goodness flesh and blood character as opposed to performance in any de Leon film yet. Joel Torre bears the full weight of his films' dilemmas on his shoulders but never shows weariness, only the strain of a kind of portrayal that acts, thinks and makes sense of experience deeply and not so much to shift the burden as part of the collective predicament. Rio Locsin's performance as Margie evinces in highly nuanced auras the emotional ravage of desperation. The stress is engraved into her harried face which festers like a wound or lesion. Bilanggo Sa Dilim is able to rethink the ways in which the melodramatic thriller could be appropriated as the idiom through which the suspense of violation is conveyed.
Direction: Mike de Leon
Adapted From The Novel The Collector By John Fowles
Screen Adaptation: Mike de Leon, Jose Almojuela And Bobby Lavides
Lighting Director: Ely Cruz
Associate Lighting Director: Rody Lacap
Music: Jun Latonio
Film Editors: Mike de Leon And Emy Santiago
Production Design: Lito Perez
Produced By: Solid Video
Release Date: September 29, 1986