The found footage gimmick has been the rising thing when it comes to filmmaking. I mean, it gets utilized in horror a lot, but even cop dramas, sci-fi fantasies and even some party movie had been adapted to what can be called as ‘found footage’ with the use of the first person “documentary” style cinematography. I guess it is an easy way to bring people to theater seats.
Well, Rodrigo Cortes, fresh from his directorial semi-success “Buried” wants to try his hand into the ‘found footage’ horror flick together with director Carles Torrens that feels like a knock off of “Paranormal Activity“ and “The Devil Inside“. In “Apartment 143”, the viewer is brought into a few days in the lives of three paranormal investigators. A father of two kids have invited them to investigate the strange occurrences that have been happening in their new apartment, as the previous place the family had stayed in had the same unusual phenomena. The three investigators set up cameras, and motion detectors as a few days of thuds, kettles moving and furniture being out of place; they conclude that this unseen force is not shy or discreet at all in expressing itself. Now, they must use everything (gadgetry, mediums, séances etc.) to drive out the malevolent force that haunts this family, as the family’s own tragic past comes revealed….
Cortes does put the viewer in familiar territory in his screenplay of “Apartment 143”, and it is a decent enough play on its limited devices. I mean there is the troubled father who tries to keep everything together, the rebellious young teenager, the investigators who wish to help but may have stumbled far more sinister than they would care to admit, well, you have to admit, it has the right formula for a suspenseful horror romp. I guess while the film does show potential, I found it fascinating that the direction chose to rely on the usual bumps and scare tactics rather than developing the story at its core. It tries too hard to exude that uncomfortable mood and atmosphere, that it becomes infuriating the more the viewer sets into its groundwork. This is not the kind of film that relies on one camera, mind you, it has a variety of cameras coming from different sides of the house. It does have the claustrophobic feel, and it tries to be innovative when it comes to the POV style cinematography but it just struggled to fit together, it became monotonous.
Not to say that the film does not have some good scares, it has some good imagery, three scenes actually stood out. However, the development of the plot and the characters feel a little more on the play by play side, that it drains all the suspense out of the flick. I guess something had to be said for its performances. Dr. Helzer (Michael O’Keefe) is your clichéd paranormal investigator who seeks to find an answer to everything while his sidekicks (played by Rick Gonzalez and Fiona Glascott) are little more than minor devices to drive the film’s dialogue. I do have to say that despite his uneven start, Kai Lennox as Alan White managed to hit the right points of emotion especially in the final act of the film. His character was the kind that inspired sympathy, yet it also questions Alan’s truthful statements in the matter. Gia Mantegna is what you can call the “Linda Blair” of the film, as she sets forth a few uncomfortable scenes that brings the unseen force’s motivations into question.
“Apartment 143” moves at an easy 80 minutes, and it does manage to expand on its intentions and comes out swinging in the final act. It had that climactic revelation that gave it narrative power by punctuating the family’s tragic past. It had some good exchanges in dialogue, but it was unfortunate that the film could’ve been better directed. Yes, it can be argued that it is supposed to be rough and ugly since it is ‘found footage’, but the story telling took a little too long to get to its points that it became tedious to sit through despite the short 80 minute runtime. It does have its moments, just a little too wide in scope yet too small in execution (relies on predictable scare tactics rather than developing more into the parapsychology) when its half-baked characters just couldn’t drive its ambitions. I have grown to like the ‘found footage’ style in filmmaking as long as it has the right drive and discipline behind it; but this film is just tedious, and a little too dry for my tastes. It does not feel ‘authentic’ that it fails to gain any footing with the script. Horror fans may find it worthy of a rental. [2 Out of 5 Stars]
*1/2 out of **** The directors of found footage horror films must not think too highly of their audience. There are those who care - MOST of the boys behind this year's rather good found footage anthology "V/H/S" - and those who don't. The latest byproduct of the people who don't to find its way into my poor old television is "Apartment 143", a flick that I knew from the get-go was probably going to be a complete waste of time from the trailers alone, but as always I fucked … more
Star Rating: Apartment 143 is essentially a cross between Paranormal Activity and, assuming I’m interpreting it correctly, An American Haunting. On the one hand, it’s a standard, technically competent found-footage mockumentary that delivers plenty of tension and some genuinely good scares. On the other hand, its plot is needlessly confusing and ultimately provides a baffling resolution that raises more questions than it answers. When it comes to … more