Review: Apartment 1303 (2012)

884

apartment_1303_2013_1


Cast: Mischa Barton, Rebecca De Mornay, Julianne Michelle
Director: Michele Taverna
Country: USA | Canada
Genre: Horror
Official Trailer: Here


Editor’s Note: Apartment 1303 is now open in limited release and on VOD

“Apartments don’t kill people. People kill people.” It says a great deal about the calibre of dialogue we’re dealing with in Apartment 1303 that this is a line it features not once, but twice. Two times. Twice Michele Taverna put pen to paper—or finger to key, more likely—and wrote those words, twice his producers read them and okayed them, twice under Taverna’s direction John Diehl allowed them to fall from his mouth. Twice, as an audience, we have to bear the burden of hearing them. “Apartments don’t kill people. People kill people.” Twice.

Given the script’s penchant for such absurdly silly lines, a deluge of expository dialogue is hardly a surprising addition. What is, and what’s perhaps the most egregious example of the film’s complete lack of storytelling acumen, is the prevalence of expository monologue.

apartment_1303_2013_3Nonsensicality is a currency with which Apartment 1303 trades in staggering amounts. Bearing more than a handful of similarities, both aesthetically and narratively, to last year’s The Pact—itself owing a vital plot point to Psycho—Taverna’s film centres on a pair of sisters and the supernatural setting of the title, where the younger sibling moves to escape her domineering alcoholic mother. Given the script’s penchant for such absurdly silly lines, a deluge of expository dialogue is hardly a surprising addition. What is, and what’s perhaps the most egregious example of the film’s complete lack of storytelling acumen, is the prevalence of expository monologue. Taverna, for reasons we can only dare to hope to possibly maybe fathom, has contrived a character who finds it fitting to break in her new apartment by punctuating squeals of delight with conveniently relevant details of her past and present life, spoken aloud.

But “relevant”, here, is a word that’s relative: nothing is really relevant to this movie, which is even less sensible than it is scary: a feat indeed. Taverana adapted the screenplay from the 2007 Japanese film of the same name, on which he served as executive producer, and from which he evidently learned nothing of how to make a film. His direction is as limp as his dialogue, every vagrant effort at raising fear almost bewilderingly lacklustre. Gratitude is due, at least, for the dearth of jump scares, but that’s less a conscious realisation of their overall inadequacy than it is simply a consequence of Taverna’s inability to manage even a basic effort. Were it not for the ludicrous expanse of half-heartedly creepy—and whole-heartedly unnecessary—characters his script tosses into the fray, it would be difficult to even identify this absurd mess as an intended horror.

It is a wretched script, the sort that no amount of talent can salvage, the kind too far gone into the realms of awfulness to be within the reach of rescue. This is a movie doomed to failure; with Taverna behind the camera as well as behind the keyboard, it fails particularly hard.

apartment_1303_2013_4Yet somehow, it’s not the ghastly lack of atmosphere which most offends about Taverna’s direction: no, that falls to his management of his cast, who universally mount the dialogue with precisely the level of performance it deserves. These are not terrible actors, but they each act terribly here, none ever seeming to bear even the most minute resemblance to a real human being. Perhaps it’s inevitable given the lifelessness of the lines; even the greatest of actors would struggle to refrain from the wailing hysteria implicit in these words. It is a wretched script, the sort that no amount of talent can salvage, the kind too far gone into the realms of awfulness to be within the reach of rescue. This is a movie doomed to failure; with Taverna behind the camera as well as behind the keyboard, it fails particularly hard.

Apartment 1303 is a film that makes Apartment 143 look like The Apartment. It’s the kind of movie so superlatively boring that it’s all one can do to sit there and dream up silly little title pun pans to pass the time as the actors let the ghastly dialogue spill from their mouths and drip from their chins, leaving a sordid stain across their clothes as it slinks to the floor like the lifeless gruel it is. Devoid of interest, delivered without skill, and desperately unscary, it’s a film whose highest achievement is in managing to at least be inoffensive in its atrocities.

[notification type=”star”]20/100 ~ PAINFUL. Apartment 1303 is a film that makes Apartment 143 look like The Apartment.[/notification]

Share.

About Author

Ronan Doyle is an Irish freelance film critic, whose work has appeared on Indiewire, FilmLinc, Film Ireland, FRED Film Radio, and otherwhere. He recently contributed a chapter on Arab cinema to the book Celluloid Ceiling, and is currently entangled in an all-encompassing volume on the work of Woody Allen. When not watching movies, reading about movies, writing about movies, or thinking about movies, he can be found talking about movies on Twitter. He is fuelled by tea and has heard of sleep, but finds the idea frightfully silly.