Movie Review: 'Apartment 143'


Have you seen any of the Paranormal Activity movies? How about The Last Exorcism? Good. Then you've seen everything that the low-budget and generally generic Apartment 143 has to offer. Oh, wait, there is a twist: the PA movies take place in houses, and TLE is mostly set within a farmhouse. Carles Torrens' version takes place in an apartment. Hence the title. I've just spoiled the big surprise.

One hates to be so glib and dismissive of an independent horror flick, especially one that was written by Rodrigo Cortes (director of the rather fine gimmick thriller known as Buried), but when a film has little to offer besides drab blather and a sparse handful of jolts, jumps, and ostensible twists that we've seen (literally) five times before, in much more interesting movies, well, one starts to get a little bit irritated. 

Basically, we have a single father with a cute little boy and a miserable teenage daughter. Combine that with three paranormal investigators who show up to delve into the eerie mysteries that have plagued the struggling family -- and you know pretty damn quickly where Apartment 143 is headed. A lot quicker than the movie seems to, anyway. (Another surprise: the head investigator is played by Caddyshack's Michael O'Keefe!) A major problem arises in the fact that none of the characters are worth caring about, or (logically) listening to, which means we're spending a lot of time on Apartment 143 simply waiting for the spooky stuff, and not much of it is all that exciting.

Since we're knee-deep in the lazy side of the found footage pool, we are of course presented with an overtly talky plot structure that offers two or three shocks amidst long and arid moments of chatting, arguing, and whining. To be fair, the film does pick up some legitimate steam in its final ten minutes, and the filmmakers do pull off some pretty strong special effects for this sort of movie, but you'll have to meander through a good deal of languid nonsense to earn those final chills.