Thursday, October 17, 2013

Apartment 1303 [Double Review]

Apartment 1303 (Japan, 2007) - Color, Director(s): Ataru Oikawa
MPAA Rating: NR
[UK: 15]
Approx. 94 min.

Z-rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 2 stars out of 5

I've been meaning to review this one for awhile now. I heard they were going to remake this so I wanted to get my review of the original out before the remake. I never got around to it but they've already released the remake, so now I'm going to do a double review and compare the two movies side by side. I'm starting with the original Japanese version because that was obviously the superior version.

Supposedly based on a novel by horror author Kei Oishi, who also wrote the Ju-on novels that The Grudge movies were based on. I say "supposedly" only because I can't actually find any information on the book itself. The movie opens with a girl, who recently moved into the apartment, mysteriously falling to her death. We are introduced to Sayaka shortly afterward, who moves in and is celebrating with a group of her friends. They sit around telling scary stories when one of them goes looking for her dog and smells something strange in one of the rooms. Sayaka investigates then wanders out of the room in a daze. She starts acting strange, eating dog food, and puts on a helmet. When her friends are momentarily distracted, she jumps off the balcony to her death. Her sister, Mariko, decides to stay in the apartment while moving Sayaka's things out. A detective notices a link between Sayaka and the previous girls who have committed "suicide" in the apartment. As Mariko digs deeper to find the truth of what happened to her sister, she's haunted by the spirits that still inhabit the apartment.

"And this dead girl came with the apartment, YEAH!"

Nudity: None.

Gore: There's blood from girls who fall to their death but it's not as if we see anyone splatter when they hit the pavement.

Awesome: Decent. I know some people are tired of Asian horror movies about girls with long hair but the fact is, they're still pretty damn creepy. I've laughed at this movie before for its bad effects when the girls are "falling" to their death because they took me out of the moment when watching this movie. The effects aren't much better after repeated viewings but the story is actually pretty deep. A girl is tormented by her mentally ill mother until she can no longer stand it and stabs her to death. She hides her corpse in the closet for months before finally committing suicide herself by jumping off the balcony. As a vengeful spirit, she's able to force people over the edge of the balcony.

Overall, I consider it to be a pretty decent J-Horror movie. Veterans of the genre might feel like they've seen it all before but my appreciation of this movie has grown at least tenfold after watching the atrocity that was the American remake. Now, I know that people complaining about American remakes to Asian horror films is also nothing new but this was particularly bad. Here's a side-by-side comparison of both movies:

First of all, why did we even remake this movie? Of ALL the movies we could've picked, why this one? Most buildings here in America don't even have a 13th floor, we just call it the 14th floor. That's why 1408 actually made a hell of a lot more sense! (plus, all the numbers added up to 13)

The story pretty much has all the same elements as the original, except it seems like it was translated by a 6th grader. The script is re-written in the most superficial manner you can imagine. A girl named Janet just recently moves out and finds herself an apartment. During her first night there, she's spooked by the strange sounds that she hears in her apartment. The superintendent tries to force his way into her apartment and asks her to show him her tits. In the original movie, anything sexual was only very subtly implied.

That's literally the ONLY line in the entire movie that implies the landlord might've been a pervert. In this movie, the guy is a total creep that most people would've called the police on immediately. (Which the girl doesn't do at all)

I don't understand why it was necessary to emphasize what a pervert he is in this remake. This isn't the only instance he appears either, he's lurking outside her door later as she's making love with her boyfriend.

This guy, the poor man's Colin Farrell

Speaking of her boyfriend, she does eventually call him and asks him to come over. The asshole just turns her down, giving her a bunch of crap for calling and then saying that he's too busy. As a matter of fact, everyone in this movie is rude as hell to this girl who just moved into a new apartment and is scared out of her mind. She mentions to a co-worker that weird things are happening in her apartment but her co-worker completely ignores everything she says. Instead assumes that she was beaten by her boyfriend even though she denies he had anything to do with it. (Cause friends do that, right?)

"Whoops! Guess she was serious..."

When Janet dies, the ghost girl literally has to drag her out to the balcony. There's no tension or suspense whatsoever as she's being dragged out, so it's difficult to care about her dying. In the original, the girl was having a party with her friends. They were telling ghost stories to set the mood and the girl even says something creepy about not wanting her face to get smashed up before she jumps. The scene is pretty shocking.

After she dies, her sister Lara (Mischa Barton) moves into her apartment. The dialogue between Lara and the detective who explains Janet wasn't the first to die in the apartment is absolutely painful to watch, there were no emotions expressed during their conversation. The acting in this movie is almost non-existent. I swear someone just started rolling the cameras while everyone was rehearsing their lines then edited it together and said they were done. Almost everyone in the movie speaks in a completely monotone voice. The only person that does any kind of acting is Rebecca De Mornay.

This movie can't even seem to make up its mind on whether the people are able to see the ghosts or not. Janet shows up and tries to drown her sister while she's trying to take a bath. Why?? Nothing that happens in the movie makes any sense! The plot is so convoluted and stupid! The ghost girl doesn't even look scary, she looks like a clown. 

Here's the girl from the original Japanese film:

Tell me that's not infinitely creepier. The bulk of the original story is focused on how the mother was going insane and abused her daughter to the point where she kills her. They illustrated the depths of the mother's insanity by showing how filthy the apartment became and how she scribbled "DIE" all over the walls while gnawing on a water bottle until her gums were raw and bleeding.

They don't even show what happened to the mother and daughter that lived in the apartment in the remake. They just mention it in a passing statement. The ending was a bit different from the Japanese version but that's not necessarily a bad thing. This is literally one of the worst, if not THE worst, movies I have ever seen and I highly recommend staying away from it. This movie lacks any creepy elements, has the worst acting, and a completely superficial story. There is absolutely nothing redeemable about this movie. If you were considering possibly renting this for Halloween, rent the original instead, it's a MUCH better movie!