Three Horror Films from Magnet
Apartment 143 (Emergo) (November 1/15)
One of the more disposable found-footage efforts as of late, Apartment 143 (Emergo) follows a team of researchers (Michael O'Keefe's Dr. Helzer, Rick Gonzalez's Paul, and Fiona Glascott's Ellen) as they attempt to get to the bottom of strange occurrences at an apartment building - with the majority of the movie transpiring within the confines of a flat shared by a family of three (Kai Lennox's Alan, Gia Mantegna's Caitlin, and Damian Roman's Benny). There's never a point at which Apartment 143 (Emergo) manages to wholeheartedly (or even partially) grab the viewer's complete attention, as filmmaker Carles Torrens, working from a script by Rodrigo Cortés, proves unable to offer up either an engaging narrative or a single sympathetic character. (In terms of the latter, the movie suffers considerably from Mantegna's astonishingly grating turn as a petulant teenager - with the actress delivering a performance that's never anything less than completely infuriating.) Far more problematic, however, is the absence of creepy elements within the majority of the film's running time, as the emphasis is consistently placed on the various paranormal tests conducted by the researchers. Such experiments are uniformly devoid of compelling attributes and it does, as a result, become more and more difficult to work up any interest in the protagonists' effort, which ensures that the final stretch, wherein things predictably go awry, is hopelessly unable to pack the punch that Torrens has undoubtedly intended. Apartment 143 (Emergo) is ultimately unable to bring anything new to the increasingly stale found-footage genre, and it's impossible not to hope that the end is near for movies of this ilk.
True to its title, Honeymoon follows Rose Leslie's Bea and Harry Treadaway's Paul as they arrive at a small cabin in the Canadian wilderness for a post-wedding vacation - with trouble ensuing after Bea's personality changes drastically after a nighttime sojourn into the woods. First-time filmmaker Leigh Janiak has infused the early part of Honeymoon with the feel of an engrossingly low-key drama, as the emphasis is placed firmly on the central characters' uneventful day-to-day exploits in and around the aforementioned cabin (eg they have sex, they explore their surroundings, they go canoeing, etc, etc). The stars' personable performances and genuine chemistry together go a long way towards perpetuating the affable vibe, while Janiak includes a number of elements that ensure the movie boasts a consistent undercurrent of suspense. It's clear, however, that there simply doesn't seem to be enough plot here to sustain a feature-length running time, as much of Honeymoon's midsection details Paul's repetitive efforts at figuring out why Bea is behaving so oddly - with the far-from-captivating vibe compounded by the characters' decision to remain at their isolated location well past the point of plausibility. And although there are certainly a few creepy moments spread through the movie's latter half, Janiak's refusal to explain away exactly what's occurring proves instrumental in diminishing the impact of the story's final few scenes (ie what's going on here, precisely?) - which, in the end, confirms the film's place as an atmospheric and occasionally frightening chiller that ultimately doesn't quite add up to much.
Storage 24 (November 1/15)
Storage 24 follows several disparate characters as they find themselves trapped in, of course, a storage facility, with their efforts to find an exit eventually becoming more and more frantic after a mysterious, bloodthirsty creature arrives on the scene. It's a seemingly foolproof premise that's employed to distinctly (and consistently) underwhelming effect by director Johannes Roberts, as the filmmaker, working from a screenplay cowritten with Noel Clarke, Dave Fairbanks, and Marc Small, offers up a narrative that's been jam-packed with generic, hackneyed elements that slowly-but-surely drain one's interest - with, for example, the movie's absence of sympathetic characters growing more and more problematic as time progresses. (The by-the-numbers assortment of protagonists includes, among others, the arrogant jerk, the reluctant hero, and the love interest.) It's clear, too, that the movie's few positive attributes are rendered moot by the pervasively stale atmosphere, with, especially, the sprinkling of appreciatively gruesome kill sequences hardly boasting the visceral impact one might've anticipated. (This is to say nothing of the film's total lack of tension.) The persistently average atmosphere ensures that Storage 24 is, at the very least, watchable from start to finish, and yet, given the strength of the setup, it's impossible not to wish the filmmakers had aspired to something more than mediocrity.