In theaters July 12, 2012
Directed by: Carles Torrens
Written: Rodrigo Cortés
A team of parapsychologists try to figure out a strange phenomena occurring in an apartment building.
Oh, hey, found footage, it’s you again? According to contemporary scholars, some or all horror movies are of this particular genre nowadays. It really does feel like it sometimes. Luckily for us, the anxious and desensitized viewers, Apartment 143 gets it right. I was shocked too. I’m on a streak after seeing both this and [REC] within the same week.
Apartment 143 got me almost immediately. The set up is quick and concise, the scenario is a familiar one for the genre. A father, Alan White (Kai Lennox), has lost his wife in a violent car crash and is left behind with a rosy-cheeked 4-year-old, Benny (Damian Roman), and a angst ridden teenage daughter, Caitlin (Gia Mantegna). Almost immediately after his wife’s death, strange occurrences begin to happen. The young son “talks” to his mom frequently, the daughter withdraws deeper into herself, so the father decides to relocate his family to a fresh home. Unfortunately, more than memories follow.
The fist shot of this film made me smile with genuine anticipation. Local parapsychologists have been asked by Alan to investigate their new home and try to determine what is causing the new disturbances. The investigators, Dr. Helzer (Michael O’ Keefe), Ellen (Fiona Glascott), and main cameraman, Paul (Rick Gonzalez), arrive at the home and meet the family. They get a quick overview of the issues and jump right into setting up their equipment. Cameras are set in every room, every corner, showing the investigators almost every inch of the home on their monitors. Things happen from the get-go.
What follows is some quite brilliant horror film making. Much like the characters in [REC], you instantly feel for this devastated family and hope to see some resolution without buckets of blood being shed. Blood is shed, not in the copious amounts were used to, but blood nonetheless. The investigators are tuned in rapidly as things literally go bump in the night. Cameras pan across the fertile paranormal scenery, attempting to capture the massive amount of phenomena happening around them. What they discover is much more than they expected.
The acting in this found footage entry is fantastic at times. You will cheer for these people, rooting for their safety and success. Little Benny is amazing as the curious and open-minded child. His scenes don’t feel coached or forced in any way, a very impressive performance for this young actor. The father, Alan, delivers an unedited, one take monologue that lasts about ten minutes. Things aren’t exactly what they seem, and Alan finally begins to unravel and show his real feelings over the course of the recording. His scene in the third act is nothing short of awesome. You want to cry for the poor guy. Families have deep and shadowed secrets. They’re eventually exposed as the trauma deepens and the fear takes over.
There’s a fake out ending, so be prepared to yell “WTF?!” when this moment arrives. The continued scene made me sigh with relief. I felt a hot second of fury. Things are resolved with certainty at the climax, a rarity for found footage flicks these days. One of the best elements of this film is the tension if creates early and continues to simmer over the short 81 minute run time. Every scene counts in Apartment 143, nothing is arbitrary. You’ll find yourself scanning every frame of footage and every moment of the film like a homicide detective. Is there something lurking deeper in the shot? My imagination tortured me at times and that, my friends, is why this succeeds. A great film is going to make your mind and heart race, it’s going to illicit a response from you whether you want it or not.
This is available VOD through certain providers as of 5/2, months before the theatrical release. I’ll see this again at the theater so I can see how the audience reacts. This is a great movie to watch on the couch of a darkened room. Enjoy, kids, this is well worth your time.