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If the city of Detroit wasn’t suffering enough already, it now serves as the setting for Apartment 1303, Michael Taverna’s inept horror film. This remake of a Japanese horror film, featuring its familiar tropes, including wraith-like ghosts and mysterious little girls, only serves to demonstrate why the J-Horror craze has so quickly cooled.
The rudimentary plot involves young Janet (Julianne Michelle) moving into the titular abode after getting into endless conflicts with her older sister, Lana (Mischa Barton), and alcoholic former pop star mother (Rebecca De Mornay, no doubt nostalgic for the comparative horror film glories of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle).
Beginning with an ironing board suddenly falling out of a closet, poor Janet is soon subjected to a variety of abuses, including a sleazy super who greets her by exclaiming, “Show me your tits” and the ever-looming presence in the hallway of a sullen little girl who is clearly up to no good.
Things go from bad to worse as Janet soon finds herself haunted by the ghost of the previous tenant, a young woman who apparently committed suicide by jumping off the balcony. Enduring a series of poorly staged shock scares, no sooner does she try to comfort herself by saying, “Everything will be just fine” than things turn out not to be. It isn’t long before she too takes a fatal header off the balcony.
In the sort of bone-headed decision reserved for characters in terrible movies, her sister Lana naturally decides to move into the apartment herself, where, with the aid of Janet’s shady boyfriend (Corey Sevier), she attempts to solve the mystery of the apartment’s habit of driving its unfortunate inhabitants to grisly ends.
A skeptical detective (John Diehl) investigating the case assures Lana that “apartments don’t kill people; people kill people.” It’s safe to say that this howler of a line — delivered not once but twice — won’t exactly enter the ranks of cinematic immortality.
Naturally it isn’t long before Lana is also experiencing things that go bump in the night, including the periodic reappearances of her dead sister, who, at least in terms of her runny eye make-up, looks rather worse for wear. It all culminates in the sort of would-be shocking climax that would, under better circumstances, set up a sequel.
That’s hardly likely for this non-starter, which is inexplicably receiving a limited theatrical release in 3D despite the fact that the only audiences it’s likely to attract will be undiscerning VOD and DVD consumers.
Featuring shoddy CGI special effects, laughable dialogue and performances all around — De Mornay seems to be striving for camp in her frequent scenes in which she’s seen working on songs, wearing a headband to signify her musical cred — Apartment 1303 will no doubt find itself playing to theaters as vacant as its setting.
Opened July 26 (Gravitas Ventures)
Production: (1303 Productions, Monte Cristo Entertainment, MonteCristo Pictures, Storm Pictures
Cast: Mischa Barton, Rebecca De Mornay, Julianne Michelle, John Diehl, Kathleen Mackey, Madison McAleer, Corey Sevier
Director-screenwriter: Michael Taverna
Producers: Michael Taverna, Cindy Nelson-Mullen
Executive producers: Cindy Nelson-Mullen, Scott Rosenfelt, David Shoshan, Jim Steele
Director of photography: Paul M. Sommers
Editors: Roberto Silvi, Edward Brizio
Production designer: Louis-Rene Landry
Costume designer: Suzana Fischer
Composers: Davy Bernagoult, Yoann Bernagoult, John Lissauer
Not rated, 85 min.
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