Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
In writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman’s latest film, 11-11-11, we meet acclaimed but troubled writer Joseph Crone (Gibbs), who is suffering from the recent loss of his wife and child, both tragically burned alive by one of Joseph’s fanatic readers. At the start of the movie (November 8th), Joseph is in a near-fatal car crash (at precisely 11:11), and after somehow miraculously walking away without a scratch, he finds himself looking for purpose and meaning in his otherwise empty existence.
Coincidentally, the very same day Joseph’s estranged brother, Samuel (Landes), calls from Barcelona to let him know that their father is dying so the writer jets off to Spain in order to make peace with his family. Upon arriving, Joseph becomes plagued by sightings of demons and the number 11:11, which has begun to pop up everywhere around him. Samuel, who is also a minister with some revolutionary thoughts regarding theology, urges Joseph to seek comfort from all his pain in religion, but the skeptical writer isn’t buying it- that is, until Joseph discovers that his brother may in fact be a prophet sent to save the world from the end times.
The brothers begin to notice that a gaggle of demons keep showing up at their house every night at the same time (11:11), and it turns out they want to capture Samuel so that they can sacrifice the holy man on 11-11-11, thereby unleashing some very dark forces into the world that would no doubt signal the end of both religion and humanity all in one fell swoop.
On paper 11-11-11 sounds like a fantastic concept for a flick as I’m always down for a little fire and brimstone, end of the world kind of horror shenanigans; however, the movie itself is an entirely different story. Bousman, who made a name for himself in the industry with his directorial efforts on movies like Saw II-IV, Repo! The Genetic Opera and Mother’s Day, just didn’t quite nail this one like his previous films, leaving me rather underwhelmed by the conclusion of 11-11-11.
With a PG-13 rating, there’s no gore to speak of throughout 11-11-11, which isn’t necessarily a deal breaker since a lot of movies these days can make it work without relying on crazy kills or copious amounts of blood. Unfortunately, things just never click as we are introduced to a bunch of great-looking demon creatures that for some reason only end up lurking in the shadows throughout most of the film and never become the truly terrifying presences they should be. Bousman’s exploration of the real-life fanaticism surrounding the numbers 11:11 is also underdeveloped, leaving audiences to fill in some of the blanks for themselves during the film’s third act.
And while I was actually cool with the twist ending Bousman lays out for us in the film (which I wouldn’t dream of spoiling), the third act feels like it’s moving at a breakneck pace when compared to the rest of 11-11-11, and I wish he would have taken his time with that part of the story- perhaps it would have made a greater impact had the last fifteen minutes of the film not felt like 30 minutes of story were trying to be jammed in there.
In terms of casting, everyone in 11-11-11 does serviceable work. As our lead protagonist, Gibbs is solid as suffering writer Joseph struggling to find faith amongst the chaos unfolding around him, and had it not been for his performance, the film would never have worked at all. Gibbs also shares great chemistry with Wendy Glenn’s character, Sadie, who befriends Joseph during their grief support group meetings, but Sadie kind of pops in and out of the story, and we never get to find out much about the character as a whole. With his performance of Samuel, Landes’ work here is rather bland (he never reacts to anything that happens within the film), but it seemed like the actor did enjoy the direction his character took in the film’s final moments as that’s when he finally kicks things up a notch. If only we had cared about his character for those other 85 or so minutes.
Overall 11-11-11 is unfortunately a misfire from Bousman, who still remains one of my favorite modern horror directors working today. Teeming with great ideas, badass looking demons and some visually stunning set pieces, 11-11-11 ends up coming off feeling flat and uninspired at the end of the day and makes me wish for something more from the man who has given us some great moments in modern genre cinema.