Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Apartment 143

Apartment 143

Directed by Carles Torrens

In order for a horror movie to work, some suspense is required. This means giving the audience enough time to comprehend the possibilities of what might happen before throwing "horror" at them. Thankfully, this isn't what this movie does. Unlike many movies that use jump-scare tactics to provide most of their horror, this movie doesn't have many moments that make you jump. In fact, it doesn't have many moments of any substance at all. Apartment 143 has minimal scares, character development, or payoff of any sort.

Before going any further, let it first be known that I am a fan of found-footage horror movies. Actually, found-footage movies of any genre. I think when used correctly, the gimmick can be used to aid the plot in introducing characters, giving documentary-like insight on their actions, and helps add realism to the story. When being told through a handheld camera, for whatever reason the action seems more plausible to me, as if it could be me holding that camera. That being said, I think the makers of this movie did not properly utilize this filmmaking method, and the result is dry, sluggish, and unoriginal. If you've seen any of the Paranormal Activity movies, you've seen this -- only those movies are actually good.

The set-up is generic. A small group of researchers are introduced by the man with the camera, who despite being the cameraman, seems to have no clue how to hold a camera still -- a cliche that has always bothered me about supposed "filmmakers" in these type of movies. They go to a family's home where 'supernatural events' (look, I can create movie titles, too!) are taking place, set up cameras, and - you guessed it - things start to get out of hand. There is genuinely nothing original about this story. The plot is so hopelessly generic, it's as if it was written by a computer program that compiles, recycles, and reuses previous screenplays and adds its own title pages.

The acting is sub-par, which can only be expected of a movie that focuses so little on its characters. I'm not entirely sure the characters are even supposed to make any connection to the viewers at all, as their presence seems to serve little more purpose than as a means to segue the story from one plot point to the next. While most found-footage movies utilize this method as a way to aid character development, this movie instead bypasses this notion, and moves straight on through to the story, eliminating any chance for the horror to successfully have any effect on the viewer. You can't feel any sense of urgency or fear for characters you're completely unfamiliar with. That's just not how it works.

To go into greater detail why the horror in this movie doesn't work, most of this is due to the camerawork. The cinematography is too aggressive. When something shocking or horrifying is supposed to be happening, if you can't see it because they're continuously waving the camera around at dangerously high speeds and shaking it back and forth, we eventually lose interest and stop trying to be scared completely. Horror requires some participation from the viewers. The filmmakers need to incentivize the audience, or it simply won't work. Watching Apartment 143, I felt no need to even attempt to be scared. Granted, there was one moment I found genuinely creepy, but that didn't even happen until the last 5 seconds of the movie. And that was a cheap scare, to say the least, that quite possibly only stood out to me due to the lack of effectiveness of the horror that preceded it. And it was shot with a camera being held in place, only slightly moved by a mechanical motor. See where I'm getting at?

All things considered, this isn't a "bad" movie, per se, it's just a deeply flawed one. And the flaws stem from almost every single aspect of the movie. I would say "watch it for yourself", but I can't really recommend it. As I previously mentioned, if you've seen the Paranormal Activity movies, you've seen this same basic plot played out already, and more effectively. And if you didn't like that series, I would definitely not recommend this, as it is basically just a cheap, less effective knock-off. But it did have one thing going for it -- it wasn't very long. Whoop-de-doo.

1 comment:

Rodders said...

I haven't seen the Paranormal Activity series, but I would rather watch the first film and see if I like it than watch a cheap, less effective knock-off. A good review though, Jeff