DVD REVIEW: 13/13/13 / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: JAMES CULLEN BRESSACK / SCREENPLAY: JAMES CULLEN BRESSACK / STARRING: TRAE IRELAND, ERIN COKER, JODY BARTON / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Whether through careful design or by sheer luck James Cullen Bressack has established himself as a one-man film industry. Attached to no fewer than 15 upcoming projects on the Internet Movie Database this 22-year-old is garnering awards and notoriety with astonishing pace. Beheld by some as “horror’s new hope” Bressack’s films seem to satisfy a demand for lowest common denominator cinema, but are they actually any good?
Spreading his filmography over many sub-genres, 13/13/13 is Bressack’s attempt at an apocalypse horror film, with the end of the world brought about because humanity ignored the ancient Mayan calendar and added an extra day every 4 years. Now, after millennia of ignorance, time has caught up with us and we have arrived in 13th month of the 13th year. At 13:00hrs, all hell is about to break loose.
First things first, 13/13/13 is a bad film. It is a poorly conceived, ill-judged piece of filmmaking that relies entirely on disappointingly tiresome shock tactics to draw any cohesive response from its audience. Beneath the unnecessarily gratuitous and excessive on-screen violence (because that’s what apparently happens when we can’t tell time properly) is a nasty, unpleasant undertone where subjects such as paedophilia and abuse are treated with flippant disregard. If there was a glimmer of irony, a slight, desperate understanding of black humour then these moments could, could have been understandable and interesting sub-plots but are handled with such blunt disrespect as to be nauseously unpalatable. 13/13/13 gives the strong impression of a film thrown together by a few drunken friends who were constantly trying to outdo each other with their grossness. The direction is haphazard and repetitive, and not one performance rises above the mediocre.
Secondly, and more disappointingly, Bressack clearly has talent. To Jennifer was an inventive, if not entirely successful take on a found footage film and most recent release Pernicious has both style and substance. His gorily gritty past and present output point towards an abundance of ideas and energy but these traits need to be focussed with more restraint in order to allow Bressack’s clear ability to develop.
There is little of note or quality in 13/13/13 and as a measure of Bressack’s work, it’s a poor example. Whatever the future does hold for this formidably fearless filmmaker though there will undoubtedly be plenty more films on the production line but hopefully with a greater emphasis on quality over quantity. Perhaps less really is more.