I like horror movies; that’s no secret. In particular, I enjoy horror movies that are more traditional. There’s a place for slasher films but I’d much rather watch a good ghost story. “Apartment 143” has a lot of the things that I really enjoy in a good scary movies. There were a few moments when I had my hands over my face when my husband came into the room; that’s always a good sign.
Title: Apartment 143 (2011)
Director: Carles Torrens
Cast: Kai Lennox (“Boogie Nights”), Francesc Garrido (“The Sea Inside“), Fiona Glascott (“Resident Evil”), Michael O’Keefe (“Michael Clayton”, “Caddyshack“)
Synopsis:A team of parapsychologists try to figure out a strange phenomenon occurring in an apartment building.
This film fits into 2012’s reality-TV-like style. The Parapsychologists show up early on to investigate what’s happening in Apartment 143 and that is where much of the footage comes from. There are a lot of handheld shots and the action is often happening in another room and depicted on the monitors the investigators are using. It’s got an authentic feel and it’s easy to get drawn in and forget that it’s all fiction. There aren’t any nausea-inducing shaky shots or flashy quick edits and I appreciate that. The director has achieved a nice balance of footage from the crew and regular shots.
The story is engaging. The team of scientists experiences supernatural-like phenomena shortly after they arrive at the apartment. Things are complicated by a volatile teenage girl (Gia Mantegna), an adorable (if slightly too chatty) little boy (Damian Roman) and a father on the brink of a nervous break-down (Kai Lennox). As the investigators begin to unravel the mystery things get more and more out of control and it’s clear there is a malignant force at work in the apartment.
Kai Lennox is a stand out in this film. He successfully pulls off the mixture of emotion that one might expect from a single father living in a haunted apartment with a hormonal teenage daughter who hates him. He’s all kinds of confused, emotional and it’s convincing. His character holds the narrative together even when it does get a bit confusing.
And sadly, it is a little confusing. I’m not sure if I missed some key pieces of the conversation but I became a little lost at the end. I was confused as to why the investigators were drawing the conclusions they were. Overall, it didn’t detract from the atmosphere of the film and the resolution was satisfying enough for me to forgive any lasting doubt.
Torrens, a relatively new director, stuck to a stripped-back approach. The film isn’t over-processed, special effects aren’t overused and the tension is consistent throughout.
If I had any criticism at all – it’s that the pace was a bit uneven. Most of the back story essential to the plot is revealed in one huge scene about 3/4 of the way through the film. The placement of the reveal is fine – but it’s a lot of information to process all at once and the action doesn’t slow down for very long.
I’m going to be watching this director to see what he comes up with in the future.