For a film with the tagline: “The first real ghost story”, Apartment 143 (also known as Emergo) doesn’t really seem to be pulling out the stops to show us something new. Written by Rodrigo Cortes, the man who brought us Buried and Red Lights, Apartment 143 feels like it surely can’t have been written by the same man.
After being chased out of their home by unexplained paranormal events, Alan White (Kai Lennox) and his two children take up new residence in an apartment building in the city. After a week the malevolent force catches up to them and once again the family is put through Hell. Desperate for answers Alan turns to a small team of parapsychologists who, with an arsenal of high tech equipment, set out to unravel the mystery and free the family from the grips of an unrelenting nightmare.
The best thing about Apartment 143, very quickly becomes evident: the dialogue and casting. Particularly Kai Lennox’s performance as Alan White, a troubled and emotionally distraught man sent to breaking point by the supernatural occurrences around his family. Lennox’s performance is a careful study in bumbling but unrelenting love with an undercurrent of menace that allows him at least one really good scene. Also, watching Paul (Rick Gonzalez), Ellen (Fiona Glascott), and Dr. Hezler (Michael O’Keefe) interact together, on what surely becomes their most involving case, is a plus considering that one of the few traits of Cortes’ scripts that carries to this project is his skill with dialogue.
As for plot and scares the film is a mixed bag. An early series of bumps and bangs goes for the ballsy all-out approach, but instead jumps the gun wasting a scare that we’re not in the right place for yet. That idea unfortunately encapsulates the whole film: bad timing on scares results in non-points in the spooky department. An interesting decision on Cortes’ part is to set a lot of the paranormal action during broad daylight, probably in an attempt to dilute the predictability of the piece, but the decision rarely pulls off. Still, brownie points must be awarded for blatant affronting, the kind Cortes shamelessly pulls out the bag in both Buried and Red Lights, those shameless moments of OTT horror that could go either way actually give the piece an edge at points that many horror films fail to achieve.
The problem with the film is that we’ve seen it all before, it’s so recycled you know the plot before the mystery is put in place. The scary moments rely on jumps and the tension rarely gets a chance to build, the few really eerie sequences have already been done to death in other movies. Still, there are no issues with acting, it does manage a few good scares, and it at least tries to be interesting through the parapsychology slant.