Saturday, November 10, 2012

Apartment 143 (Emergo)

Here's Looking At You Kid

Found footage and first person perspective. I suppose it is just about the time now that unless you have a compelling story to tell, this gimmick has just about been worn out by countless of filmmakers out there making movies both big and small to tap upon this technique, and it is very unfortunate that the filmmakers of Apartment 143, also known as Emergo, decided to spruce up a simple tale into a half baked attempt in being too intelligent for its own good. The necessary ingredients for a horror film is there, but it tripped up multiple times and came across as hokey, even silly.

A group of scientists get called upon to investigate the Whites since they have been experiencing inexplicable activities in their house. So opportunity for found footage comes in the form of CCTV cameras, with audio I may add, being mounted at multiple strategic locations around the house, together with an arsenal of "high-tech" monitors in order to make it less like Paranormal Activity. You know, by upping the ante and trying to do too much.

So you can just about guess how many frightening things get picked up by sensors and the cameras, coupled with roving handheld digital videocams that go around each time the team of head scientist Dr Helzer (Michael O'Keefe), Paul Ortega (Rick Gonzalez) and technician Ellen (Fiona Glascott) follow the movement of Alan White (Kai Lennox), his daughter Caitlin (Gia Mantegna) and young son Benny (Damian Roman). They constantly hear loud sounds that happen without explanation, and encounter movement that should not occur. After a while you'd think they have the bad luck of living in a haunted house, only for Dr Helzer to explain it away in the most unconvincing of terms.

As the saying goes, if you can't convince them, confuse them, and Apartment 143 tried very hard to use mumbo jumbo science to try and explain away events that we see happening, with new definitions for poltergeist manifestations and the likes. After a while you'd soon believe that Dr Helzer is quite the quack, and even sillier series of events start to develop, which don't make much common sense or logic in the first place. Violent apparitions happen to members of the family, but guess what, everyone stays put just to try and experience it all over again. There are signs that say stay out, but no, everyone buckles down. Even an interrogation scene looks so stupid, because obviously it's time to call it in and fold up investigations, but I guess if they did then we'd have no movie.

There's nothing frightening presented here that you haven't already seen before, such as speaking in a different voice or tongue, or having to wear white contact lenses (or having one's pupils digitally removed), or to be able to levitate up in the air above the bed. Such is the originality of Apartment 143 that it's easy to guess why writer Rodrigo Cortes, who actually directed Buried and Red Lights, two films I enjoyed tremendously, didn't want to helm this himself, with director Carles Torrens having nothing new to offer, They looked as if they're just rehashing old ideas in order to just clock in a feature film, trying very hard to eventually make it to the 80th minute endpoint. There were opportunities in the story that try to suggest some hanky panky from within the White household, but this doesn't get explored with gusto and all that resulted from it, is an chance to play with practical effects in filmmaking.

With a parting shot that's cheap and again, generic and derivative, Apartment 143 should not have visitors, and people should stay away. You have been warned, unless you're one of those who don't mind being reminded how not to make a horror film that does not try to innovate, and to rely on cheap techniques to scare newcomers to the genre.

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