There is a fine line between a good horror movie and a bad horror movie. Originality helps, but is not absolutely necessary. There are plenty of Asian horror movies that use the same devices that still hold together both as films and as an avenue to scares. You might even read about a few of these on the blog. This movie however decides to take all the ingredients from the horror larder and make a cinematic meal that is decidedly unsatisfying.
I was drawn to “APT” via a description which made it sound like a Korean version of one of my all time favourite movies, “Rear Window”. Unfortunately other than a couple of scenes where our heroine watches the apartment block across from hers through binoculars, and a few discussions about voyeurism these movies have nothing in common.
What we actually have here is quite a generic K-Horror. We have a lonely and somewhat disconnected heroine Ko So-Young (who you might remember I was charmed by in Project Makeover) who realises that something is not right in the apartment block opposite. The lights go out at 9.56pm and people seem to keep dying. In fact if this was the story, then things could have been interesting. Unfortunately director Ahn Byeong-ki decides to throw every element at his disposal onto the screen, and mistakenly tries to make every scene drip with tension and a shock. Let us just have a look at what he decides to throw in the mix:
- Creepy long haired ghost
- Ghosts appearing at the edge of a shot
- Train Suicide
- Suicide from high building
- Over emphasis on creepy noises
- Policemen who will not listen
- Crippled girl in Wheelchair
- Mysterious puzzle object (which is really never explained)
I could go on, but I’ll get boring.
It is a shame as there are some interesting moments as well, which actually redeem the film somewhat. There is at least one interesting death, the film’s first ending is actually rather unexpected and there is a nice moment with a Hikikomori. The problem is that so much gets thrown at the viewer that the good moments are lost amongst the cliché, and we never get time to appreciate the good things going on here.
I understand this is an adaptation of a comic book, which I also understand is way more interesting than this film. In fact I do suspect that most of the good things here are from the original source, and have been somewhat shoehorned into something a little more generic.
So I am afraid this is the first film in a while I would not urge you to see. It is not completely without merit, and it will provide a scare or two. It is just that there is a better film hidden inside this one that will never see the light of day.