The found footage genre is alive and well and coming to you in the form of Apartment 143, which was originally called Emergo outside of the United States. a team of paranormal investigator take a case involving a family who believe they are the victims of a haunting. With science and technology at their disposal, the team will enter the dwelling to document, report, and get to the bottom of the case. Will Apartment 143 bring a fresh take on the genre? It seems that we are being bombarded with a found footage film every week. Most end up sucking, but a few do get past the finish line. Let’s see how it goes with Apartment 143 [Emergo].
Apartment 143 is the latest supernatural ghost story to hit screens this summer and it focuses on a team of paranormal investigators who have been brought in to investigate a possible haunting in a older looking apartment building. The dwelling that this trio of investigators will be looking into is inhabited by Alan (Kai Lennox) a widower, his teenage daughter Caitlin (Gia Mantegna), and young son Benny (Damian Roman).
Right off the bat we see that Alan is a bit on the “off” side in that he’s obviously depressed, and is trying to do everything he can to keep his family safe. Benny is really young, so he’s somewhat oblivious to the whole thing and Caitlin is just a big rage monster who hates her father. The leader of the trio of investigators is Dr. Helzer (Michael O’Keefe), who is accompanied by Ellen (Fiona Glascott), the fearless woman of the group, and our fly on the wall is Paul (Rick Gonzalez), who is the “technological” wiz-kid of the bunch and since he’s the tech guru, we’re actually with him through most of the film when it comes to identifying with a character.
According to Alan there have been some strange occurrences off and on for several weeks. Things like ringing telephones with no one answering, doorbell ringing and no one actually outside of the door, weird temperature changes, movement at night, etc. What’s even creepier is that all of these happenings followed them from their old home into this new apartment. Alan thinks he’s cursed, but the good doctor stops him right then and there. With the “ghostbusters” on the case they will get to the bottom of this.
I’m totally not over the whole found footage genre just yet, because there is some really good stuff out there and I’m happy to say that Apartment 143 fits right in the middle. It’s neither great nor is it bad. It’s got some really creepy moments and the ending was pretty scary. Yes, scary. I dare you not to jump.
It’s also cool that Apartment 143 has some veterans of horror and suspense like Rodrigo Cortes who was behind Buried and most recently Red Lights on this production. He wrote, produced, and co-edited Apartment 143. The film cost less than 2 million dollars to make and was actually shot in Spain, which doubled for Riverside, California. The film was shot on stages and on set. American actors taking direction from a Spanish production team, but you’d never know the difference, because the film is competently made.
Oh, and just to clarify my opening line of this film hitting theaters – I think it only opened in one theater, but had its exclusive debut on VOD way back in April. I’m really digging the new crop of horror films hitting the VOD market months before the theatrical release. I missed in its initial VOD run, so it was cool to get my hands on the Blu-ray.
I would say that this film IS better than any of the Paranormal Activity, Devil Inside, and Last Exorcism films. I don’t know, maybe its because I really enjoy the Spanish sensibility of their horror films. I still think the REC films are some of the best of the found footage genre, so there’s my bias. If you’re still on the edge about scooping it up on Blu-ray just stream it via Amazon or Netflix or rent the Blu-ray. I think that even if you end up hating it the film there’s some cool bits and pieces that will freak out for sure. *cough* the ending *cough*
Apartment 143 is presented in 1080p, and in various aspect ratios. 1.85:1 is the standard presentation, but when the investigators pull out their bag of tricks the frame changes to full screen 1.33:1. The fullscreen images are the ones that suffer the most due to the heavy grain, dirt, debris, and scratches found throughout those scenes. The standard stuff shot in 1.85:1 look great, but the palette is always on the muted side. Low light is everywhere and lots of curtains are drawn, which give it that sunset at dusk type of look, where the light wants to enter through the blinds. Outside shots fair a little better, but not by much. Contrast is boosted somewhat in those scenes, too. Flesh tones and detail are stable, but there is some slight banding issues here and there. I’m sure all of the imperfections were on done on purpose, but that’s what makes grading a film like this so hard. It’s made to look sort-of-crappy, so if that’s an aesthetic choice then why lower the grade? Well, just because it’s an aesthetic choice, it doesn’t mean that it’s pleasant to look at. That’s why I’m going right through middle on this one.
Apartment 143 is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. Let’s just say that’s an alleged claim. Remember that trusty powered subwoofer I have that automatically turns on at the slightest hint of low bass frequency that I own? Well, the bugger did not turn on once during any of the scenes, chaotic or not, in this film. I was bummed. Therefore, I can classify this as a DTS-HD MA 5.0 track, because there was no .1 anywhere to be found on this Blu-ray. Other than that, the soundtrack is extremely effective at broadcasting the scares. Dialogue is heavily centered and there will not be any problems in clearly understanding what the characters are saying. It’s got incredible depth and clarity. The bass management, since the main left and right speakers have to carry it all, is above average and they handle the lows without any problems. Bass was full and tight. The rear channels will mess with you as the evil forces envelope the entire apartment. It’s an above average soundtrack, but I’m still bummed in the lack of true LFE.
There are quite a few extras on the Apartment 143 Blu-ray, which I found rather entertaining. There’s a 20-minute interview with director Carles Torrens that’s very informative and fun. He goes through all of the obstacles in getting the film made; budgets, locations, actors, etc. There’s a production featurette focusing on several aspects of production like: building sets, location shooting, make-up and special effects, and visual effects. I could have gone for a commentary, but I’ll let it slide.
- Making Emergo (Apartment 143)
- Special Effects
- Visual Concept
- Art Direction & Make-Up
- Child’s Play
- Interview with Director Carles Torrens
- HDNet: A Look at Apartment 143
- Theatrical Trailer
Not bad, not bad at all. I was hooked from the get go. Chalk it up to it being a Spanish production with American actors on a low budget and what’s not to like? Apartment 143 could have been a few minutes longer – it does run 80-minutes WITHOUT credits, but for some (the easily scared) that’s probably an eternity. The Blu-ray technical specifications are weird, because certain scenes look great while others look like crap, so I had to rate them accordingly, as well as the sound rating. The special features, on the other hand, were terrific and really expanded on what the filmmakers were going for. I will say that Apartment 143 is a much better film than any of the Paranormal Activity pictures by a long shot. There, that’s my endorsement. Do with it what you will.
Order Apartment 143 on Blu-ray!