Apartment 1303


If the Ghost Doesn’t Kill You, You’ll Die of Boredom Anyway

Main Cast: Mischa Barton

Director: Michael Taverna

Wanna see how you can blow through a reported $5 million and have zero to show for it in the end? Just watch the 2012 “horror” movie Apartment 1303 with Mischa Barton and Rebecca De Mornay.

It starts with Maddie’s younger daughter Janet (Julianne Michelle) getting her own apartment in the city. Maddie (De Mornay) is an alcoholic ex-singer who, once upon a time, had a hit single, and has since been drinking her way through life and mentally and emotionally abusing her daughters Janet and Lara (Barton). So Janet takes the first opportunity she can and gets the hell out.

The only problem is, this new apartment, which she loved so much upon first sight, gives her the creeps once the sun goes down and she finds herself all alone. There are noises in the night, a rancid smell she can’t get rid of, and the little girl next door is creeping her the hell out, too. Janet’s boyfriend is too busy to come over, and when Janet calls Lara saying she thinks she made a mistake and wants to come home, Lara tells her mom’s in a mood, coming home probably isn’t a great idea.

Janet is attacked in the night, but thinks the bruises she finds the next morning are the result of sleepwalking, a side effect of the sleeping pills she took the night before.

Eventually the apartment’s curse comes to fruition and Janet–as with every other tenant to rent apartment 1303 over the last 20 years, is thrown from the balcony. Insisting there’s no way her sister would commit suicide, Lara decides to stay in the apartment to 1) get away from her mother and 2) try to figure out what really happened to Janet.

But by the time she discovers the truth, it’s too late, and there are more bodies than suspects, leaving Lara in quite a bind.

Apartment 1303 is one of those movies that sounds better on paper, but had an execution that was just inexcusably bad. It’s a remake of a Japanese movie of the same name, this time written (or adapted) and directed (or filmed) by Michael Taverna, whose only other credit before this was something called Managua. Never heard of it.

I was interested in seeing this one after enjoying Barton a lot in 2009’s Walled In, but the performance she turned in here had to be a case of either Walled In being a fluke, or she just really can’t handle bad material very well. I’m hoping it’s the latter and that she actually is a competent actress. Either way, I really liked her in that movie. Not so much this time.

It’s clear she’s giving it her all–as if De Mornay, if “all” means chewing the scenery–here, but, man, this script…it’s just not there. And if this is the end product Taverna looked at afterward and said “Good enough” to, then I’m not sure I’ll be trusting him with my horror selections in the future.

Julianne Michelle was unfamiliar to me before this movie, and will probably be so again just as soon as this review is finished. But, again, as terrible as she was, I HAVE to put a good deal of that blame on Taverna. It’s clear the guy has no business being behind the camera.

I had high hopes for this ghost story. For me, ghost stories are my go-to, and I really really expected to be chilled by this one. Unfortunately the plot was dumbed down, the performances were underwhelming, and the overall production felt just plain lazy. Not one single scare occurred in the entire 85 minutes, and I think I might have actually come away from this movie more boring than when I started it. For what it’s worth, I think Barton can still deliver with the right material. De Mornay was good in Mother’s Day, so I know she’s got it too, given the right script. It just so happens Apartment 1303 was the completely wrong script and Tarverna was the completely wrong writer/director to bring it to screens.

This one gets 5 out of 5 yawns.

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