Apartment 1303 (2007)

The good folks over at Bloody Disgusting have posted the latest UK trailer for Apartment 1303 3D, a remake of the 2007 Japanese film of the same name, starring Mischa ‘The O.C.’ Barton, Rebecca De Mornay and Julianne ‘who the…?’ Michelle. They were hoping the UK trailer might be less confusing than the very bizarre US trailer and I guess, to some extent, it succeeds. The film still has little promise though.

Why am I so pessimistic? Well, just a couple of weeks before finding out about the remake, I happened to test drive the original (trying to scratch an Asian horror itch). The film starts out with an awful lot of promise, being about a cursed apartment where everyone who lives there is haunted and dies (typically by nose-diving from the window on the 13th floor). The bulk of the story follows a girl who moves into the apartment to clear out her deceased sister’s belongings after she fell victim to the spooky goings on, flashing back to what happened when she killed herself in front of a group of guests, and the search for the sinister origins. Not exactly originality to write home about, but enough to have great potential creep factor.

That’s why it is so disappointing at how quickly the film sinks under its own silliness. Every Asian horror cliché is on show here, from the creepy little girl to the long black haired ghost. In fact, the whole thing boils down to a Ju-On: The Grudge inferior knock-off, which isn’t too shocking, since it is based on a novel by the same author. The problem with the film is that, even way back when in 2007, we were all growing so tired of the typical J-horror tropes that set us on edge the years previous with The Ring and The Grudge films.

There has been plenty of academic writing on Western audiences being scared of the nihilism or outright inescapableness of their scenarios (in Asian cinema, if you are cursed, you are cursed, whereas Western mythology traditionally gives a redemption option), and it is only normal that there is only so far that plot thread can be taken before an audience tires of the genre.

It is with this in mind that Apartment 1303 is a potentially great film lost to the popular plot of the day, with tension and scares being paint by numbers, and twists being surprising only in that you didn’t think the film would actually be so stereotypical (though I do absolutely love J-horror’s unwavering casualness to subject large groups of people seeing supernatural events happen, as if ghosts are as normal as watching someone get hit by a bus). I actually gave the film a lot of leeway, hoping the ending might bring things all together in a not-so-expected way, but instead I was treated to a stupidly laughable, disastrous FX-filled finale (and let’s not even start on the bad-hair day puns) that will only leave you screaming ‘STOP BEING SO PREDICTABLE!’. Heck, it made Mama’s final act look impressive by comparison.

The remake came out in Russia at the end of last year and is preparing to come out in the US and UK in the next few months direct to DVD or VOD. The initial US trailer is horrendously laughable, but it seems like a very early rough reel trailer, as opposed to this new one, which is slicker, and seems to promise a lot more, but if you have seen the original, you know the trailer is really only focusing on one section of the film, and it isn’t the section that made the original Apartment 1303 fall down flat on its face.

Chop this one up to minor thrills only worth catching if it’s on TV.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

3 Comments on “Apartment 1303”

  1. Tom Dexter Cloon says:

    I actually enjoyed the picture, not a great script. There were very fine actors in this picture, Diehl, Julianne Michelle, Rebecca DeMornay. They made it work, made the picture decent. DeMornay, with good direction, could have done an even better job. Michelle is always good and a few other like the child, Sevier all fine actors. The director seems to have done well enough. The editor was not up to par with some clumbssy cuts that made the actors appear stupid at times. All in all worth seeing. my friends had a fun time, so did I, scary. Also DeMornay is STILL pretty, Michelle is gorgeous with a slight Angelina Jolie look. She is a beauty in her own right. Maybe they could play sisters, that’s it. Sevier his a hunk, handsome guy. Nice to look at these people.

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