A flat-warming party in a seafront apartment block goes horribly wrong as the hostess starts eating dog food, then dives out the window to her death. As her sister investigates, she discovers that the apartment has very creepy neighbours, and a curse. Something the estate agent failed to mention...
The mystery here is not why young women keep hurling themselves off the balcony of apartment 1303, but how director Ataru Oikawa went so wrong after Tomie (1998). It’s starting to stick out from his filmography as his only good film, and not many people agree on even that. His recent sequels Tomie: Revenge and Tomie: Beginning were far from good.
On the plus side, the acting is strong, and I was pleased to see Eriko Hatsune again, the star of Uzumaki. Other actors convincingly convey uncontrollable grief and impending madness.
At the heart of the story, the tragedy flashback is dramatic enough. But we've seen the resulting haunting too many times before, and done far better.
Ten years down the line, it’s time to stop recycling Ring and Ju-On. Especially when the scares don't work. There’s a couple of good ones, but 2 out of 20 isn’t an acceptable score.
The ghostly make-up looks like make-up. The sets look like sets. The rubber corpse looks like rubber. The long black hair effects are overused and, yawn, reminiscent of the vine-attack from The Evil Dead. There’s even a scene straight out of Carrie.
"A Tale of a Haunted House"...well no, it's just an apartment
The fatal falls aren’t gory or shocking, with some unconvincing green-screen work. I thought that it was compulsory that directors of Japanese horror learnt to shoot suicide falls effectively - it’s a given that it'll be needed sooner or later.
I can’t say I was bored by it, but I won’t be returning to Apartment 1303. It's out on DVD in the UK and US.
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