Review: Apartment 143 / Cert: 15 / Director: Carles Torrens / Screenplay: Rodrigo Cortes / Starring: Rick Gonzalez, Kai Lennox, Fiona Glascott / Release Date: Out Now
A bunch of paranormal investigators are invited to the home of a family - Dad, moody teen girl, four year-old boy - who are being plagued by nightmarish beyond-the-grave style spookiness. Mom has recently died and there’s an unavoidable tension within the family dynamic; the investigators are on the scene with all their fancy gizmos to record any and all examples of supernatural shenanigans in an attempt to find out if the family really are being troubled from beyond the grave or whether their problems are of the more domestic variety…
Your enjoyment of Apartment 143 very much depends on how much the Paranormal Activity franchise floats your fear boat. At first blush Apartment 143 seems almost scandalously derivative of the long running series; found footage format, camera equipment recording goings-on, things moving about in the night of their own accord. But Apartment 143, clearly inspired by the Paranormal Activity series, soon heads off in a radically-different direction. Where the PA films are slower, more atmospheric affairs, teasing out their shocks and scares and leaving the audience breathless with anticipation, Apartment 143 just cracks on and starts throwing all its supernatural toys at the screen in the first ten minutes. The apartment is quickly rocked by supernatural seismic shock, things start to bang and rattle, and shadowy figures appear on photographic images. By the time the film fizzles out we’ve gone the whole hog with levitation, possession and - the film’s best shock moment - a flash photography sequence which sees something faintly hair-rising suddenly standing in the middle of the room.
Tempting as it is to write Apartment 143 off as just a cheap and timely rip-off (Paranormal Activity 4 is out this month and, of course, Halloween is just around the corner) the film’s actually got a decent pedigree (writer Cortes directed Buried a couple of years back) and the script has a couple of nice touches which make it clear that Paranormal Activity is more of a launching-point than a rigid template, recognising the self-imposed limitations of the PA series which can never be quite this visually-explicit and travelling down a different, less ambiguous road. Interesting, if inessential but, at just seventy-five minutes, worth a look if you fancy a few reliable ghostly thrills.
Extras: Trailer, making of featurette.