Genre : Horror
Country : United States
Director: Haylar Garcia
Jennifer Conrad is a small-town girl starting over in the big city. Fleeing an abusive relationship, all she wants is a chance to begin again. But it is hard to start over when something is eating you while you sleep . . . one painful bite at a time.
Since its inception one of horror’s most popular subgenres has been the creature feature. Beginning in 1915 with Germany’s The Golem we have seen an array of monstrous beasts over the years. Whether it’s the Japan’s famed kaiju Godzilla or the Guillermo del Toro’s poetic nightmares, monsters are a universal concept that appeals to all audiences. The latest beastie to try and make their mark is the Jedak in Haylar Garcia’s film Apartment 212.
Jennifer is looking for a fresh start. Moving away from her abusive ex-husband she wants to start her life all over again. Moving into a small apartment and things take a turn for the worse when her neighbor mysteriously dies. Beginning to wake up with excruciating bites all over her body, Jennifer is determined to discover what is attacking her at night.
Horror is interesting in how versatile it is as a storytelling medium. For those looking for an interpretation of horrors of nuclear war there is the original Godzilla. For a look at a broken home that is both terrifying and heartbreaking there is Bryan Bertino’s The Monster. Similarly, Apartment 212 tries to tackle domestic violence without through the use of the Jedak. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well on the big screen, the biggest reason being the movie’s editing.
For whatever reason director-editor Haylar Garcia seems quite fond of the dissolve effect as a scene transition. Multiple scenes in a row would fade in and out for the most minor of transitions. At a certain point it felt less like a scene change and more like a running gag. The other big issue is that the pacing felt a bit off. It was as if there wasn’t quite enough story to fill out the movie but it had go hit an hour and a half. That isn’t to say Garcia is terrible as a director. As far as the basics of filmmaking he is fine and when he focuses more on the horror elements the movie starts to come together.
For a low budget movie, it looks great. I particularly liked the effects and design of our killer creature, the Jedak. Looking like a bat mixed with those fierce creatures from Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. The sound design and the buildup for its appearance are pitch perfect. Even more impressive is the use of CG. Mixing practical effects and computer graphics he is able to keep the Jedak from looking too fake. Alas, by the time we do see the Jedak it feels a bit too little too late. Thankfully he does have some help on screen as well.
Leading our cast is actress Penelope Mitchell as Jennifer. Best known for The Vampire Diaries and Hemlock Grove she does a good job as our beleaguered heroine. With some killer makeup effects and her small stature, she does a good job selling the torment she is experiencing as her life falls apart. I may have not known who she was before but I would love to see her in more horror movies after Apartment 212. The only support she has is Terry played by Kyle Gass of Tenacious D fame. Playing Jennifer’s neighbor, he plays the bumbling, concerned neighbor to perfection. He comes off as supportive without crossing the line into creepy; his romantic intentions more innocent than anything else. The rest of the cast is mostly made up of Jennifer’s wacky neighbors. While they are entertaining in their own way they tend to feel more like background players for Penelope Mitchell and Kyle Gass than anything else.
By the time the credits rolled, Apartment 212 reminded me of a lot of indie horror features. It has a solid, if cliché, story and a few creative elements like the Jedak. Lead Penelope Mitchell and comedy relief Kyle Gass shine despite the film’s low budget feel. The director seems to know his way behind the camera delivering the occasional shock. And yet it just didn’t click. Little things like an overuse of the dissolve effect and a soundtrack that didn’t quite fit keep popping up. While relatively minor things in the grand scheme of things but it adds up over the course of the film. And by the end all audiences are left with is a mess of a production. There’s a fun creature feature here but for whatever reason Apartment 212 just never clicks together.