Night #7: Apartment 143 (2013)

Directed By: Charles Torrens

What was that?” – Ok so not all the quotes can be winners.

Here I am again with another entry into the found-footage subgenre. The problem with watching something on Netflix is you don’t quite know what you’re going into. Sure I could’ve looked it up before hand but that really takes the fun out of it. I like the idea of just pressing play and seeing what happens (Well usually the movie plays, but you know what I mean). Oh and the next two movies are also going to be found-footage, so I’ll get that out of the way now. I think then we can be done for a while.

A team of Parapsychologists are called to apartment 142 (Just joking, it’s totally apartment 143), and are asked to investigate the mysterious goings on there. They set up their cameras and then we’re off to the races. See, I summed it all up in two lines.

It feels I’m being flippant about the film but I actually liked it and was surprised that I did. There were some things I suspected early on, and that I feel the movie wanted us to, that get twisted into something else. Generally it does a really good job of side-stepping expectations, even despite the obvious nature of some of the scares. The film (largely) avoids the CGI ghostings that plagued last year’s entry Grave Encounters in favour of things that go bump in the night and I appreciated the low-key nature of the film. It’s by the mid-point that the movie turns into something else entirely and has more in common with Paranormal Activity. That might sound like a turn-off for some of you and while it has some similar scares it also shares that movie’s intriguing Haunting as a Metaphor point of view – which is the most interesting thing about both movies. The performances are a lot better too, which everyone doing a great job with what they’re given. It probably says a lot for the genre when I’m surprised by a good performance, but there we are.

There are of course some scares of the cheap kind, but Charles Torrens does a good job of subverting just when those scares occur. There’s one sequence, set while a strobe light is doing its thing, wherein I was positive I knew where the scare was going to come, but Torrens keeps it going a little longer than he should and it totally worked. I jumped when I knew it was coming anyway. It’s a great scare in what’s an otherwise more modest, thoughtful, affair.

As I mentioned previously, I’m seeing an increasing number of movies that are using the found-footage aesthetic just because it’s cheap, and this is no exception. There’s no real reason for the whole thing to be shot like that, more so when there are some perfectly framed moments that serve to remind you that you’re absolutely not watching an amatuer with a camera. If the movie was shot standardly but switched to a first-person view sporadically then I probably would’ve felt differently, but as it’s presented here it’s just a distraction.

My one real, major, gripe with the film is the very end. If there’s one thing I hate it’s the scene in which they cram in one final cheap scare before the credits. It’s even more egregious here because they found a perfect, ambiguous, note to end it on and then just spoil it anyway for a scare that everyone knew would be coming. It’s even more of a shame then that it invalidates what was actually a very good meeting of Science Vs The Supernatural. I get the appeal of cramming one more scare in, but it’s as if some of these filmmakers have never seen another horror flick before. Carrie did it back in 1976 and if you’ve seen a horror movie before then chances are you’ve seen it too. It’s not only that it’s cheap, it’s always pretty implausible too. It’s got to the point where I’m entirely thankful when someone doesn’t do it and that tells me that it’s a few hundred times too many.

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