A few years ago, every horror movie Asia produced got a Hollywood remake, but the pace has certainly slowed down. However somebody decided that Ataru Oikawa’s 2007 Japanese movie was ripe for a makeover, and as was the rage when it went into production they did it in 3D.
The film starts out following Janet (Julianne Michelle), a young woman keen to get out from under the feet of her stifling ex-singer mom Maddie (Rebecca De Mornay) by renting her own place. She moves into Apartment 1303, but almost immediately strange things start to happen, with a small child hanging around, an aggressive superintendent and noises that suggest someone is in the flat.
The spookiness increases until an entity forces Julianne over the edge of her balcony, causing her to fall to her death.
Then it’s the turn of Julianne’s sister, Lara (Mischa Barton), who moves into the apartments hoping to find out what happened, as she can’t accept the official explanation of suicide. She’s soon being haunted herself, and also discovers that the man her sister was involved with, Mark (Corey Sevier), isn’t who he appears. She to finds out more about the history of the building, which begins to explain why some sort of spirit is bent on revenge, but can she stop it?
It’s a pretty generic haunted house (or at least haunted apartment) plot, which seems to be hoping that it can offer The Shining style thrills, with various possibly ghostly characters wandering round and making the main characters increasingly unbalanced. There’s one big problem – it’s rubbish.
The film feels rather unbalanced, spending ages setting up Janet’s death, so that the switch to Maddie comes too late and makes it seem that the film is essentially repeating itself. That might possibly have been okay, but it’s all done in such a hamfisted way – from amazingly unsubtle direction to characters you’d quite like to get bumped off by a ghost – that it quickly becomes a pretty tedious watch.
Most annoying are the sound effects, which are excessive, intrusive and so overused that even simple things like someone walking across a room are accompanied by dissonant clangs and whooshes. There’s a sense the film doesn’t have the confidence it can be creepy on its own, so it tries to manufacture some scare factor with over the top sounds and music, which quickly make the whole things seem rather silly.
It’s also a bit difficult to understand what they thought 3D would add to the movie (beyond being a commercial decision that hasn’t panned out), as it’s mainly just people wandering round an apartment and occasionally getting freaked out by something. You might wonder whether the setting makes it creepier in 3D in the home, but it doesn’t, it just makes you wonder what the third dimension is there for (you can watch it in 2D if you want though).
In fact most of the movie makes you wonder what it’s there for, as this really is a film that has little to offer, and what it does present has been done far better many, many times before.
Overall Verdict: Pointless 3D, ridiculously over the top sound effects and a plot that’s almost impressive in how generic it is ensures Apartment 1303 is an incredibly underwhelming experience.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac