Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Naoko Otani, Eriko Hatsune, Yuka Itaya, Arata Furuta, Noriko Nakagoshi
Director: Ataru Oikawa
Genres: Indie & Art House, Horror
(Horror) A young woman commits suicide by plunging off the balcony of the new apartment she had just moved into. Her sister begins to investigate and discovers the apartment itself has a shocking and gruesome history which... more »
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Those who dismiss this film as unoriginal aren't looking bey
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 01/27/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I can't say that I completely agree with those critics who classify Apartment 1303 as a derivative film that does nothing more than combine and repeat many of the clichés that have come to define early 21st century Asian horror. Yes, there are similarities with J-Horror flicks such as Ju-on: an evil, long-haired female ghost tied to a specific, seemingly cursed dwelling; an attempt by a haunted young woman to learn the story of the ghost and thereby free it from its deadly anger; the revelation of the haunting's origins via flashback deep into the movie; a few Ringu-like facial expressions; the presence of a mysteriously creepy little kid; etc. Still, I think this film ultimately moves in a different kind of direction, giving birth to an atmosphere all its own. In doing so, it helps to reveal the true magic of Asian horror, which I can sum up in one word: emotion. While I enjoyed Apartment 1303, it's a far cry from the best that Asian Horror has to offer, yet it still manages to touch the viewer on an emotional level, generating sympathy for the deadly ghost as well as the young girl caught up in its horrors. I don't remember the last time I really cared about any character in an American horror film. As I said, though, Apartment 1303 is far from perfect. I found the plot to be rather ambiguous in places, and I'll admit that I can't completely come to grips with the ending - one aspect of it in particular. Still, though, I was not nearly as disappointed with this film as a lot of Asian horror fans seem to be.
We learn right from the start that something just ain't right about Apartment 1303. After watching one young woman fall to her death from its balcony, we are treated to the sight of another young woman who's seemingly normal one minute, anything but normal the next, and stone cold dead right after that. In the middle of a party celebrating her acquisition of such a great place at such a low price, Sayaka (Naoko Otani) suddenly develops an appetite for dog food, then dons a helmet and flings herself off the balcony. The only person who is not shocked beyond belief by this is a creepy little girl I would dub "the body counter." Whenever a victim nosedives from the 13th floor apartment, she's always there to point out that another one just bit the dust. Sayaka's sister, Mariko (Noriko Nakagoshi), experiences some harrowing little frights of her own after coming to the apartment to collect her sister's things. She soon learns that Sayaka was only the latest of several young women to leap to their deaths from the balcony of Apartment 1303. With the help of a detective (whose presence in the film never really gains a solid footing), she comes to learn the story of Yumiko and her mother. Yumiko's story is an emotionally wrenching one that really tore at my heartstrings, and that may well be why I felt more emotionally committed to this film than most other viewers.
Apartment 1303 is all about atmosphere. I don't think director Ataru Oikawa really tried to scare the audience at all, which may be a primary source for some others' discontent with the film. At the center of everything is this terribly dysfunctional relationship between Yumiko and her mother. Not only is this the source of the haunting, it serves as a much darker reflection of Mariko's relationship with her own mother. That makes for a lot more psychological complexity than a lot of pedestrian horror fans are used to dealing with. Apartment 1303 doesn't cater to the "scare me" crowd, and it doesn't represent the best that Asian horror (or Tartan Asia Extreme in particular) has to offer, but this is in no way, shape, or form a bad movie."
Ended on a sour note . . .
Dancing Ganesha | Bangalore, India | 01/04/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, I am a serious fan of Asian Horror, so this review may be biased in that I may be comparing it to other *really good* Asian Horror films.
From about the beginning to just about mid-way, this film had a genuinely creepy atmosphere, and I found it tense and frightening; however, as it progressed, it became more and more generic and boring. The story seemed utterly cliched and the "scare tactics" became just as cliched and silly, borrowing from other Asian Horror movies (as most do), but in a manner altogether devoid of any style.
I'm sorry to say that the ending was very disappointing and the film in sum was quite unfulfilling. The special effects were ridiculous as well. This film seemed really low-budget, but even "Ju-Rei" was better than this. I also hated the J-Pop at the end that plays as soon as the final scene ends. It's just so unnecessary.
If you love Asian Horror, stay away from this one."
The haunted apartment motif
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 07/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When dealing with genre films, in this case the Japanese yurei, it isn't really important to judge how original they are, but it how well they riff on the established tropes. All zombie flicks have the walking dead, but some walk with a jauntier step than others. All vampire flicks have blood suckers, but some pack a little more bite. All yurei flicks are going to have long-haired, white faced girls, and what matters is where you go from there.
"Apartment 1303" isn't a great film, but it doesn't try to be. It is a simple haunted-apartment story, with no intention other than offering some entertainment and some chills, both of which it does just fine. The premise is actually a real and ongoing situation in Japan. When there is some known ghostly activity in an apartment, or where a suicide or murder has been committed, the rent becomes super-cheap although the rental agent often doesn't tell you why. Just by the price of the apartment you know something is going on.
Director Oikawa Ataru is best known for the Tomie series, and I believe this was his first venture into the yurei genre. He handles the conventions well, and maintains a nice spooky atmosphere for most of the film. Lead actress Hatsune Eriko (Uzumaki) handles her horror-duties well, and it is nice to see her pop up again. The movie derails a little bit when Oikawa goes for the special effects shots rather than the atmosphere. Up until one specific scene, he had kept his camera tight and claustrophobic, making the best use of the unseen and dark corners, until the sudden grand reveal brings everything a little bit too much into the spotlight.
If you are in the mood for a pretty straight forward genre flick, and just want some easy chills, then "Apartment 1303" has what you need. Of course, it isn't on the same level as Ring or Ju-on, but comparing every single Japanese yurei film to those would be like watching every single ghost film and saying "It was good, but not as good as Kubrick's The Shining. Not every flick needs to be a masterpiece to be enjoyable, and this one is good enough.