Apartment 1303 (2007)
By: J.R. McNamara on November 28, 2013 | Comments
Eagle Entertainment | Region 4, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | Japanese DD 2.0 | 96 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Apartment 1303 (2007)  DVD
Director: Ataru Oikawa
Starring: Noriko Nakagoshi, Eriko Hatsune, Naoko Otani, Arata Furuta, Toshinobu Matsuo
Screenplay: Ataru Oikawa
Country: Japan
For many years my only experience with any form of Japanese cinema was the Godzilla films that Channel 7 blessed their screens with on Saturday afternoons. That was until several years ago when I was exposed to The Ring ...and I loved it. For a while I sought out more of this type of flick, but quickly realised that a lot of the films were riding the same one trick pony: the black haired, grey faced ghost craving vengeance for a wrong committed on them whilst they were alive. Of course, there were exceptions, such a Takahashi Miike's output (seriously Audition and Imprint are pretty amazing) but in general, the likes of The Eye and The Grudge, and their many sequels and inferior Western remakes, became less and less impressive.

Apartment 1303 was made by one of the exceptions, Ataru Oikawa. Oikawa directed several of the Tomie films, which were not your typical avenging spirit fare, but here, he sits well in the foundation laid by most of the new generation J-horror flicks, a foundation that now borders on dull.

Apartment 1303 is on the 13th floor of a lovely seaside community in Japan, but it has a terrible secret. The film starts with a young girl, Yuka, who commits suicide on the night she moves in.

Soon after, another young girl, Sayaka, moves in. She is excited to find an apartment so cheap, even though the building is supposedly h-h-haunted by g-g-ghosts! On her first night, she propels herself off the balcony, just like the previous tenant. At her funeral, her spirit delivers a strange message to her sister, Mariko, who then goes to clean out the apartment. Whilst going through the selfies on her mobile, she discovers one with a ghostly face standing behind her, and this makes Mariko do some research into the apartment. Soon she uncovers a history of murder and suicide, but will she become a victim as well?

Honestly, I didn't care. The story was extraordinarily slow, and it took me three goes to sit all the way through as I dozed off the first two times, which is never a good sign. Also, the film seemed like it was 'money' driven: 'Ok, Mr. director/writer, we want a film that will make us heaps of money and have a poor Westernised imitation that will make even more money!' The entire film felt like the writer had only ever seen Dark Water, The Grudge and One Missed Call, and thought that all movies must be like that. I was also struck by just how bad some of the acting was. Even through the language barrier, I could see there were some people (I hesitate to call them actors) who just didn't know how to project their craft. The real estate agent being a particular low light of the profession.

The film itself was decently shot, and some of the female cast members were as cute as a button, but with no scares and a derivative story, this just bored me to an almost catatonic state. I honestly can't warn you away from this film enough.
The Disc
The film is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and while the image is mostly crisp and clear, it does tend to pixelate now and again. The audio is a haunting Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 track, which uses its sound effects surprisingly well for a basic stereo mix. There is no English dub on this film, so unless you can understand Japanese you'll be reading the subtitles, which are shown in a smallish white font that is always clear and easy to read.

The disc opens with trailers for Citizen Gangster, Hitman Reloaded, The Fourth State, Dragon Wasps, Shadow Dancer and There Be Dragons: Blood and Country. And that's it for the extras: a trailer park with realistically only one film that would appeal to horror fans.
The Verdict
I hate to say it, J-horror, but your time may be up. If you have nothing more to offer than wet ghosts seeking revenge, then it's back to the kaiju closet for you, because frankly this was just boring and uninspired.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
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