Sunday, November 11, 2012

Horror Film Review

Apartment 143 (2011):  My extreme disdain for the Paranormal Activity films is no secret.  They are, to use a most unpolitically correct term, retarded.  I'm told this type of horror subgenre is "found footage."  I use mockumentary.  Whatever.  The point is, Apartment 143 is of that subgenre.  It is, however, not retarded.  Why?  Layering.  Video cameras are set up and you assume you're going to witness some crazy ghost shit that will ultimately end in death for the morons who decided recording the evil entity in their home was an awesome idea.  Er, no.  Well, cameras are set up, yes, though not for reasons you may expect.  Maybe I should explain...

Unemployed widower Alan White (Kai Lennox) calls in a group of paranormal investigators when the odd doings in his apartment get to be too much.  These aren't ghost hunters, mind you.  They're parapsychologists seeking to prove there is no haunting but rather a scientific explanation for the weirdness, specifically, something called Poltergeist Syndrome in which a person's intense emotional distress manifests as psychokinesis.  This group of three consists of Dr. Helzer (Michael O'Keefe) and his two younger assistants Ellen (Fiona Glascott) and Rick (Paul Ortega).  White's kids are moody teenager Caitlin (Gia Mantegna) and her much younger brother Benny (Damian Roman).  Their sainted mom, Cynthia (Laura Martuscelli), died in a single-person car accident months earlier.  Alan moved the kids from the family home to the apartment because of strange activity.  It seems to have followed them.

All manner of scientific instruments are utilized during the days-long investigation and all manner of bizarre incidents are documented.  The aloof and unflappable Dr. Helzer is certain no spirits are behind these incidents despite evidence to the contrary.  His theory?  Caitlin, who blames her dad for her mom's death, is projecting her anger and guilt and causing the trouble.  At first, you just know Helzer's asking for it by not believing, but then, after we learn the truth about Cynthia and what really happened, you're not so sure.  Like I said...layers.  Lots of psychology going on in this messed up family.  Eventually, Caitlin goes a bit nuclear and there's a struggle to save her.  The question is, is it a struggle to save her mind or her soul?

I'm going to do a spoiler thing now just because I think it's pretty cool.  No one dies.  Which proves it's possible to make one of these "found footage" flicks without fatalities and have it not make you want to hunt down the filmmakers and beat them senseless with a croquet mallet. 


Acting:  No performance is less than decent.  Mantegna as Caitlin is kind of annoying, though.
Story:  I like the layers and being kept guessing what's really causing the odd doings. 
Direction:  Stripped down, lean movie making.  No filler, nothing extra.  Lots of fixed camera angles so lots of edits which makes for quicker action.
Production Values:  Obviously low budget but that works in its favor.  The apartment is supposed to be cheap and not so nice.  The video quality varies greatly yet that's by design and actually heightens the suspense.  To achieve this, however, sound quality is sacrificed. 
Gore/FX:  No blood.  The ghost effects are believable and well done.  Properly creepy.
Scares:  You betcha.  At least three really good ones.  And one of these might cause some minor bladder leakage.  Just so you know.
Ending:  Ah, here's where we run into a problem.  The very, very last shot is a total rip off of Paranormal Activity, which makes me sad because it was so avoidable.  The second to last shot was a perfect ending shot.  Tell you what, when the camera starts to automatically pan up towards the ceiling, just stop the movie.  Trust me.
Verdict:  Should you see Apartment 143?  It's not a great movie but it's all right.  Better than 90% of the other "found footage" flotsam floating around out there, anyway.  Give it a go. 

Rating:  3 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment