Apartment 1303 (UK Blu-ray / DVD)
Directed by Michael Taverna
Distributed by Koch Media
Director Michael Taverna attempts to stage a 3D-oriented J-Horror remake comeback with a star-led US rendition of Ataru Oikawa’s original haunted house flick Apartment 1303. Here, Mischa Barton runs the show as the beleaguered Lara Slate. While dealing with an already tumultuous home life involving her alcoholic ex-hitmaker songstress mother (de Mornay), Lara finds things taking a turn for the tragic when her younger sister, Janet (Michelle), takes a dive from the balcony of the apartment she had been renting for only a few days.
Moving into the apartment to investigate the reasons behind her sister’s erratic, frightened behaviour in the days prior to her supposed suicide, Lara soon discovers that the titular apartment still houses a particularly nasty resident — one of the ghostly kind, and who doesn’t want anyone else setting foot on their turf.
So far, so fundamental in terms of the cinematic ghost story, but while Apartment 1303 manages to lay the groundwork for such a tale sufficiently, it completely fails to add even a single layer of the necessary basic structure on top to spectacularly awful effect. Each and every cast member seems either bored out of their minds, or hamming for the camera like they’re performing in some hyperbolic Lifetime television special about suburban infidelity. Barton sleepwalks her way through the film, displaying very little in terms of recognisable grief once she has successfully moved into the apartment. Worse still is the painfully obvious slumming of the usually dependable Rebecca de Mornay. She’s a big name to have in a film such as this, but throughout every single scene she seems like she wishes nothing more than to be as drunk as the character she’s playing in order to ride her way through this shit and fail to remember it afterwards. The less said about the supporting actors, and their characters, the better. If this had been filmed as a puppet show, the stiffness may have been forgivable. But it isn’t, and… it isn’t.
Speaking of filming, Apartment 1303 appears to have actually been shot in 3D, rather than being a conversion job, and it shows — but not in a good way. When viewing in 2D (as the DVD edition solely allows — you’ll need Blu-ray for the 3D experience, not that it would help with the narrative issues), the colour correction remains entirely geared towards the inherent dampening of 3D glasses. Thus, everything looks strangely saturated, off-key, and distinctly cheap. At no point does the cinematography here, nor director Taverna’s choice of camera placement and blocking, feel anything close to cinematic.
If you’re looking for scares, look elsewhere as there are next to none to be found here. Save for one surprising revelation that’s delivered as less of a sucker punch than it is a squeaky toy hammer to the upper shoulder, Apartment 1303 is as predictable as they come. Stingers abound, and genuine tension is distressingly scarce. Worst of all, however, is the mind-bogglingly pathetic final act that sees the murderous spirit involved deliver the most laughably absurd playground shove of a death you’ll see on screen this year. At the same time, answers behind the haunting of the apartment are either skirted around or plain ignored, leading to a finale that’s as hollow and unsatisfying as just about everything else on show.
Bereft of interesting characters, dialogue, acting ability, scares, visual aplomb or much of anything else, Apartment 1303 is occasionally good for a derogatory laugh, or simply to witness what must be the middle of one serious mire in Rebecca de Mornay’s career. That’s not what we’re here for, though. No sir.
In terms of special features, Koch Media’s UK DVD release of Apartment 1303 is, fittingly, as bare bones as the story contained within.
1/2 out of 5
0 out of 5