APARTMENT 1303. 2007. DIRECTED BY ATARA OIKAWA. STARRING NORIKO NAKAGOSHI. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.
I’m been watching a lot of this style of Japanese horror film lately, encouraged by my bezzie mate who absolutely adores them, and I’ve noticed a lot of similarities between them. The ones I’ve watched, anyway, all seem to share common themes and even memes, as it were.
They all seem to be set in high-rise apartment buildings with unhelpful concièrges- two French words in a row, ooh la la…!- and haunted lifts and darkened corridors. They all have spooky girls in them with long black hair covering their faces floating around the place being menacing or just plain weird who are trying to tell the new tenants something. And it always turns out that the spooky girls were murdered in the building and they won’t be at peace until they’ve gotten justice for themselves or told their stories to the world, etc., etc…
This is pretty much what happens in APARTMENT 1303. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film and all the other similar ones I saw as well, but I’m getting so good now at interpreting the memes that I was able to work out the whole plot all by myself as we watched it. I’m famous amongst the people who know me, by the way, for never ever seeing plot twists coming, so that should tell you how pre-diddly-dictable this particular type of movie can be. At least you know what you’re getting, though.
APARTMENT 1303 is haunted by the ghost of a girl called Yukiyo who stabbed her abusive, mentally unstable alcoholic of a mother in the titular apartment. Then she hid the body in a cupboard for six months before committing suicide by jumping off the extremely high balcony. That’s messed-up, right? But here’s what’s even more messed-up…
Every young woman who’s lived in the apartment since the death of Yukiyo has ‘committed suicide’ by jumping off the balcony. The rental company responsible for leasing out the flat apparently see nothing untoward with this utterly bizarre situation. They just keep piling in those young female tenants, who all come in the front door and leave sooner or later via the balcony.
When Mariko’s sister Sayaka becomes one of the ‘jumpers,’ Mariko, a stunningly beautiful young woman, is determined to get to the bottom of things. During the course of her investigations, she comes face-to-face with poor, tormented Yukiyo, she hears some devastating home truths from her own and Sayaka’s mother and she has to figure out what part a small girl in the apartment next door has to play in the terrifying drama unfolding in Apartment 1303. Naturally, the film ends with a showdown between good and evil. The results might just surprise you…
I really enjoyed this film, so don’t take it the wrong way when I said that I could see most of it coming. Not everyone has a bestie who’s obsessed with Japanese horror. I do, which is why I’m getting so good at spotting where the jump-scares are going to come. You should still watch the film. Chances are that you’ll love it. Watch out though, because she’s behind you. In these films, she’s always behind you. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that…)
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: