There will be a lot of spoilers. A lot.
I didn’t think I had anything interesting to say about this film until I noticed a particular trend: Most people liked it. I can see why, it’s a solid film with a premise, some tension and a resolution. I know it has a plot because I saw it coming a mile away. Things are not what they seem but it does turn out to happen very much as I expected. Again, there’s major spoilers below. Sorry to hammer it in.
1BR was written and directed by David Marmor. A young woman named Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom) gets an apartment in a courtyard building. She’s trying to make it as a costume designer, but for now she temps in an office. Things are not what they seem in the surface, but they’re pretty much par for the course in a horror film. Genre films have very identifiable beats in their storytelling. They are often derivative of other similar films. A movie that plays it straight can be engaging to watch as long as it’s got a strong execution. The acting here is serviceable, although I wasn’t overtly impressed with the main character. To be honest, I can’t quite hit the nail on the head as to why I was bored with 1BR.
I think a lot of it comes to overused tropes. Pets have established roles in movies. In disaster movies, the dog lives. In horror movies, the cat dies. Sarah gets told the complex does not allow pets so she lies and brings in her cat Giles. Then she starts getting aggressive notes about having a cat. Giles’ days are counted. The poor feline ends his days in the oven. We also get to know Sarah’s overtly friend neighbours. Cute neighbour Gus (Giles Matthew) is obviously way too nice to be for real. Others, like a doctor and a lawyer, could really more than afford their own place. The one that creeps Sarah out is Lester (Clayton Hoff), a one-eyed man that lurks from the shadows, who ends up being the one decent man in the entire place. The plot also falls in the old trope of giving Sarah a best friend, Lisa (Celeste Sully), who’s African-American. She’s marked for death as well, after motivating Sarah to escape.
The strongest thing the film gets really starts once the torture begins, involves nails and a hammer and that’s basically the worst of it. The cultish behaviour follows a known indoctrination practice of close-knit community where affronts are punished in public and penance is carried out by everyone towards the accused. That alone might be to someone’s interest.
Not recommended. I have to be honest here. If we could have sarcastically pointed out how close to the horror book of tropes the movie was going to play it, then there’d be something. Still, some horror audiences might like it but it might be too tame for mainstream horror fans that demand a high body count. It’s not like the storytelling is awful. It’s solid, I just couldn’t find anything engaging to focus on. When the torture starts there’s this cheerful but annoying song playing, I immediately picture it playing in the credits after the ending. An ending, I might add, I had already guessed less than half an hour into the film.
That will do for now.