Apartment 143 is an extremely well done found footage/haunting film, which in many ways is far superior to the ultra popular Paranormal Activity franchise. The story revolves around Alan White (Kai Lennox) and his two children, four-year-old Benny (Damian Roman), and teenage daughter Caitlin (Gia Mantegna), as they struggle with the strange phenomenon that has taken over their home. Desperate for answers Alan hires parapsychologists, Dr. Helzer (Michael O’Keefe), Paul Ortega (Rick Gonzalez), and Ellen Keegan (Fiona Glascott), to come investigate the apartment, setting into motion an unforgettable investigation.
The pace of this film is perfect, unlike many similar genre flicks, not much time is wasted on building up to the investigation itself. Instead, viewers are tossed into the setup almost instantly, and cleverly fed needed information through conversations that take place during the teams stay within the apartment. Viewers are never really given the chance to lose interest in what is going on, because from start to finish they are given exactly what they came to see. Each set piece is spaced just right, giving viewers just enough time to ease back into their comfort zone, before the next burst of activity occurs, leading to some authentically tense moments.
The film also showcases stellar use of camera angles, adding a higher degree of realism to the investigation. Cameras are mounted in each corner of rooms, to limit the number of blind spots, just like in a real life investigation. These long full room shots also cause viewers to constantly scan each room, always on edge and expecting something out of the ordinary to occur, causing even the most casual scenes to have a level of uneasiness to them.
Another factor that sets this film apart from others in the same sub genre is the level of respect that is shown to the field of paranormal investigation. Many similar films feel the need to stereotype every investigator as either strange recluses, or over the top nerd characters. Each of the investigators in this film is highly professional and friendly folk, who approach the field from a scientific view. The only aspect I found unlikely in terms of realistic portrayal of the field, is the fact that the four year old is present for a large section of the investigation, I think you would be hard press to find a team that would recommend a small child’s presence in such a potentially dangerous situation.
Apartment 143’s only real down falls are rather nit picky at best, but there are moments where they try to hard to emphasize that you are seeing through the eyes of cameras by poor use of dust on the lens, or ultra cheesy interference effects. Sometimes the dust and effects are visually disruptive, making it hard to focus on what is going on. The ghost effects are also rather cheesy, but can be looked past thanks to strong writing and story telling.
Overall, Apartment 143 is a great addition to the haunting subgenre, and is highly recommended to fans of the paranormal that have been looking for a more true to life approach for the genre. Apartment 143 is currently available via VOD and will have a limited theatrical release starting on June 1st.