Jesse Bradford plays a recently paroled young man who moves into his dead mother’s apartment, where he begins to hear strange voices and creepy, violent sounds. He’s convinced the person next door is beating his wife and kid. But the landlord tells him that the apartment is empty! Meanwhile, his new employer (Carlos Leon) is starting to get worried about his erratic behaviour and obvious lack of sleep. One bad word from him could see Bradford headed back to prison. But Bradford’s sure he’s not losing his mind and he’s not abusing drugs, so what in the hell is going on? Did I mention that his mother suffered a mental breakdown and became a shut-in before her death in the apartment? Amelia Warner plays his ex-girlfriend who has just come back into his life. Kevin Durand, Aron Tager, and Pruitt Taylor Vince play very disturbing, creepy neighbours, the former a cop.
Based on a 2005 Filipino film I haven’t seen, this horror flick from Yam Laranas (who also directed the original and makes his American debut) starts off with the most memorable and unique opener I’ve seen in a while. The opening credits alone were freaking me out with some truly unsettling sounds. It’s a genuinely creepy film and the sound design is Oscar worthy if you ask me. Never underestimate the value of a good sound design in a horror film. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it simply does a solid job of scaring the crap out of you. I’m surprised I’d not heard of the film beforehand, and if you’re watching it at night...all alone...good luck!
It’s good, simple genre stuff and although not a great actor, Jesse Bradford plays one of the more unique 20-30 something horror leads of late, far edgier, yet strangely more likeable. Amelia Warner is quite appealing too, whilst Kevin Durand and Pruitt Taylor Vince are effectively unsettling appearances on screen. Vince’s last scene is pretty intense, and Durand is so intimidating on screen that I reckon he ought to play a serial killer some time. But what is up with his Bugs Bunny teeth? Am I the only one who has noticed them?
I initially liked that you couldn’t tell if the film was heading in the direction of a ghost story like “The Haunting” or something more psychological like “Repulsion” or “The Tenant”. Admittedly the ultimate answer is a bit murky to figure out, but I had enjoyed the journey by that point. Still, it’ll probably leave you scratching your head a bit. The only other drawbacks for me are a few J-horror visuals thrown in unnecessarily (yes, it’s a remake of an Asian horror film, so what?) and amber filters that make the film look murkier than necessary. I mean, why is the exterior of the apartment bathed in the same amber lights as the interiors? That makes no sense. The screenplay is by Shintaro Shimosawa (who has written episodes of “Smallville” and “The Dead Zone”) and Eric Bernt (who had previously written awful scripts for “The Hitcher” remake, “Virtuosity” and “Surviving the Game”) from original material by Laranas and Roy Iglesias.
A strong, scary film with brilliant sound design, and more interesting characters than usual. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it intriguing and disturbing. Absolutely not for wimps.