Apartment 1303 Movie Review

Written by Becky Roberts

DVD released by Koch Media


Directed and written by Michael Taverna
Original story by Kei Oishi
2012, 85 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
UK DVD release on 3rd June 2013

Mischa Barton as Lara Slate
Rebecca De Mornay as Maddie Slate
Julianne Michelle as Janet Slate
Corey Sever as Mark Taylor




There’s now quite an extensive list of apartment numbers that every horror fan will be sure to watch out for on holidays and house moves. Number 1303 became one of those numerals in 2007 with Ataru Oikawa’s Japanese supernatural horror Apartment 1303, and director Michael Taverna now looks to recapture the haunted happenings behind door on the thirteenth floor in his Hollywood headlining remake.

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Fed up of incessantly rowing with her boozy, damning mother (Rebecca De Mornay), Janet (Julianne Michelle) moves out of her family home to find independence and happiness in her own flat. But when she is found dead after seemingly leaping from her balcony just a few days later, her grieving sister Lara (Mischa Barton) moves in to figure out the cause of her younger sister’s freak death.

Oikawa’s original adaptation of Oishi’s novel expended all the contraptions of J-horror; the lurking draped hair figures, narrative complexity in references to paranormal past events, and an ominous score to secure the eerie atmospheric tone all contributed to the deliverance of this chilling story. Six years later and another American rendition of an original J-horror crashes to a bitter inferiority. Taverna fails to translate the novel into anything other than a one dimensional and predictable plotline and makes a feeble attempt to build the deserved atmosphere. The shortcomings are all too immediate, and those who have little patience may well, understandably, throw this aside long before the mediocre eighty five minutes. 

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When Lara discovers that her sister is the latest in a long line of women to have died in that apartment and decides to move in herself, it’s not only ridiculous and infuriating, but condemns the narrative beyond repair. This happens within the first half. When Lara and the former boyfriend of Janet team up to get to the roots of the death, the following investigation is boring and unimaginative, and the interweaving scares are too blatant to bear any effect. It has its odd moments of eeriness in a Paranormal Activity-esque sequence of a girly ghost (a girl who is clearly just dressed in a damp gown) circling the sleeping boyfriend, but even that is soon ruined by a quick cutaway and return to its lacklustre plot. It’s forever half a step forward and five steps back.

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Barton leads the cast through an array of tawdry performances with no help from the naff dialogue and lack of character development. The pitifulness of De Mornay’s fallible character provides more embarrassment than entertainment, and it’s disappointing to see the horror highness in a weak role considering her tyrannical mothering presence in Mothers Day (2010) and, of course, her legendary contribution in the genre.

A series of unworthy 3D FX and a laughable sex scene concludes the substance of this remake. If you’re looking for your next horror fix, don’t check in to Apartment 1303 3D (2012). Go for the 2007 version instead.

Video, Audio and Special Features:

Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.


Movie: onestar apartment-1303-dvd-small
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