To preface this entire post, I LOVE a terrible horror movie. I am the B-Movie queen, I love both Elvira’s Movie Macabre and MST3K, and I have been known to mystify Sacco when bursting into the home exclaiming “You will not BELIEVE the terrible movie I JUST BOUGHT!”. Zippers on monster suits, plot holes I can drive my Nissan through, and terrible special effects make me melt with joy and shame for the poor actors who had to do this. They were paid, true, but is that enough of an excuse for some of this?
I have been know to call and screech at my father (poor bastard) for a solid hour about my distaste for films through which he laughs heartily and recommends that I take a job reviewing for a living–preferably on cable where you can say all my favorite adjectives. There are other movies that make it onto the routine viewing loop no matter how awful Sacco thinks they are. (Sundays equal terrible horror movies; what once was cool is now an unbreakable routine. Some of you may understand.) Shutter and the Grudge (with SMG) have wound up on this loop. To give perspective, Ju-On (the original mini-series from V-Cinema) is still in the actual give you some thrills category.
(Yes, I am a bit of an Asian cinephile, blame my upbringing.)
This Sunday, I fired up Netflix and landed on Apartment 1303 for my viewing pleasure. I live in an apartment, the film is about an apartment. I am just under 30, so are they denizens of the uber-spooky apartment. I felt it may hit home enough to give me a bit of a shock before I partook in schlock. Netflix rated it high for a choice for me.
Netflix is a filthy lying whore.
The movie starts and I already know it is going to be a slog. It was formulaic to the point of a coma. Girl rents apartment. Girl hears noises. Girl investigates dark room with no regard for light source. Girl swan dives off of 13th floor balcony. THEN, we get the next renter. This time a dog willingly goes to investigate the spooky room (which of COURSE is the tatami room, because the western style rooms just lack the appropriate closet ambiance), which I throw the bullshit flag on right now.
When my dog thinks it hears something? Sure, it will go prancing ALMOST to it, but then it makes as much noise as a pygmy schipperke can make. Which is unholy and ducklike and surprisingly loud for all of her six pounds. The 26 pound voice made it through birth, the rest of the body did not. She would not just lie down and whimper while mysterious hair (oh, we are not done beating HAIR to death? Ok.) wraps around it. Said hair looks like the scraps in the bottom of my knitting bag by the way. They bought out all the yarn shops in Tokyo for this little number. One of the ending scenes proves it.
After the dog is rescued just in time by Friend A (whose presence is only needed to sort of move the plot about and who disappears shortly after), Girl 2 opens traditional closet full of smoke machine and then chucks herself out the window after indulging a bit of the dog’s Kibbles and Bits.
The rest of the flick is the Sister of Girl 2 attempting to Figure Things Out. Amazingly knowledgeable detective who believes in Spooky Doings shows up out of nowhere to help and the apartment ghost makes field trips out to screw with Sister’s head. An apparently famous book was written about the apartment and obvious reason about the haunting which the Sister not only finds, but finds with complex name, apartment number, and other really key details not edited out. The ghost does all the things Asian ghosts are doing lately and, even with a passably interesting back story, it ends really the way your expecting it too.
Now, I totally get the appeal of an Onryo, they are a good ghost to run with! Lots of their main characteristics are things you would expect to be terribly spooky and everyone loves a story about a powerless woman who is only able to seek vengeance in the afterlife. I just don’t see that element in this story. What I saw was a bunch of people saying “This is what makes money now!” and then going for it. Not to sneer at them for that! Make your dollars anyway you can, you gotta hustle these days! I’m just so tired of sameness that I have been seeing lately.
Kids, when renting an apartment that you are going to live in for the first time ever away from mom, do a few things:
1. Do not trust a deal too good to be true. It could be ghosts, but it is probably just meth labs and roaches (trust me on the roaches part ::Shudder::)
2. GOOGLE THE ADDRESS. At least then you KNOW you are living in a place where multiple murders were committed, satanic rituals practiced, random disappearances, or (if you have to be mundane) what the crime statistics are for your maybe future home.
3. It’s an apartment, there are weird noises. Those are called “neighbors”. Should you believe it to be otherwise, bring a flashlight (if your saving power and don’t wish to use the lights the damn place came with) and your weapon of choice (telescoping baton FTW!) for the love of whatever you may find holy. Or just, ya know, because people live to steal your shit and you may want to see them AND hit them with something.
Don’t be a dim bitch. And don’t watch this movie. It didn’t even come up to the entertainment level of Sarah Michelle Geller refusing to kick a ghost in the face when she totally should have. For me anyway. It’s all subjective anyway.