Monday, October 28, 2013

Movie Appraisal: Apartment 1303 3D (2012)

The original Japanese Apartment 1303 was the Japanese horror movie that made me dislike Japanese horror movies for the better part of a year. Formulaic and incredibly basic in terms of plot and characters, I was more annoyed with it than anything else. It really represented the bottom of the barrel in Japanese horror films, being completely unoriginal and not trying anything new or different. I dislike the movie even to this day. And now I watch the American remake, and ask myself, "Can this be worse than the Japanese movie I already didn't like?"

No, actually, it's a much better movie. Well, let's not go that far. It's better in some ways and worse (so much worse) in others. Overall I enjoyed it much more even though it is not even close to being a recommended movie. So, upfront, I'm telling you to avoid watching this movie if you haven't seen it already. And if you have, well, uh... that certainly was a movie, wasn't it?

The acting isn't good. I can't overstate that enough. It's really not good- from anybody. The filming is mediocre and some of the make-up effects are quite good, but the acting is so bad that it makes the film hilarious rather than scary. And it's not just one actor doing a bad job here. No, it every single actor. None of them can deliver their lines. None of them seem to have any passion for doing a good job. And none of them seem to care about this movie at all. I'd have to blame the director, Michael Taverna, for this, but the directing (other than the acting) is competent. So, I don't know what to think. Maybe the actors were all just sleepwalking and looking for a paycheck. That's what it seemed like anyway.

The story here is miles more coherent and miles less creepy than the original. Calling this a horror film would be a stretch. But even saying that some of the effects (CGI and make-up effects) are quite well done. They come off as more like good ideas in a forgettable film though than as spooky things in a spooky film. And as a ghost film, you'd expect scares to be on the top of the priority list when in fact the top of the priority list here are really weird moments and nonsense character pieces. I like how there is a focus on character, sure, but none of it means anything. It's all so flat because of the acting that it's impossible to take seriously.

If you want a summary of the plot, just look at my review of the original and take out all of the mentions of groups of characters or possessions. This ghost in this movie doesn't possess. She turns into a cloud of gassy smoke stuff and pushes people a little sometimes. She's incredibly not scary even though she somehow kills three people in the course of the movie- mostly by accident it seems rather than on purpose or for any real purpose.

And the deaths are so lackluster that they're just plain stupid. The ghost must have some kind of sense of humor or something. Because seriously, the last death in the movie just made me guffaw with laughter. And that should never happen. Not in a movie billed as a horror movie.

The plot follows the same premise from the original, but tends to be a bit more focused, which I appreciate. The characters are more defined, but all the scares in the movie are literally taken out in favor of- of- I don't even know what. I found the film boring more than anything else. It made me sleepy. I kind of wished I could stop watching it. I never really felt anything for the characters and with the exception of a few well done moments, the movie is completely lackluster, although not quite the absolute mess I was expecting.

I like the homage to the original Japanese film with the Japanese store in the apartment complex. That was something that made me smile at least. And the setting of Detroit was also something I appreciated even if it was all for naught in the end.

I wish I could say more, but this little revenge(!?) ghost film fell flat for me. It gave more bores and laughs than anything else. And the acting was horrific with everybody butchering lines left and right. I didn't like the movie very much, but there's not enough there to hate. I'd call it mediocre, forgettable, bland, and unapproachable.

Don't watch it.

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