Tuesday, October 26, 2010
On the day that Sayaka moves into her first apartment she almost immediately begins behaving in a peculiar manner. Before her partying friends can act, she leaps off her balcony to her death. A few days later Sayaka’s sister, Mariko, is burdened with the depressing chore of cleaning out her deceased sister’s place. While packing up Sayaka’s belongings Mariko experiences a feeling of dread which she is unable to identify. As the police investigate Sayaka’s strange suicide a detective informs Mariko that her sister is the 5th person living in the apartment to die in this manner. Together the two investigate the apartment’s history, which leads them to the discovery of a horrifying secret and a devastating curse.
The director of this arguably slight J-horror offering uses his meager budget with concision and economy to weave a semi-effective vengeful ghost tale. He gets the story rolling quickly via teenagers and some blatant exposition,
He throws in the requisite cheap scares early on to quickly engage the audience. For example, there is a ghost milling about the elevator for no apparent reason except to freak us the hell out,
Apartment 1307 borrows liberally from both JUON and The Ring. Despite the blatant rip-off and my previous complaints that J-horror doesn’t scare me anymore, I had to bump up this review with an extra half-star because of this scene where a vengeful ghost uses hair power to maul 3 girls,
American haunted house stories are typically set at night and in large sprawling mansions. Given the realities of a cramped Japan, I’ve been surprised with the effectiveness of these Japanese ghost stories that take place small dwellings and, often, in daylight. JUON, for example, was set in a petite home but Apartment 1303 takes place in a tiny one bedroom apartment in a large high rise. Apparently size does not matter when you’re haunting someone. There are a few good scares to be had in this slight offering but nothing you haven’t seen before.