26th Nov2021

‘Apartment 413’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Nicholas Saenz, Brea Grant, Dave Buckman, Jon Michael Simpson, Adriana Guerra | Written by Ron Maede | Directed by Matt Patterson

Marco spends his days applying for jobs online and waiting for Dana, his pregnant girlfriend, to get home. Strange post-it notes mysteriously appear around the apartment with cryptic warnings. A mechanic texts and calls him with menacing messages from an old non-functioning cell phone. The walls close in and tensions build between Marco and Dana’s relationship until all sense of safety dwindles as the lines between imagined and reality blur for both Marco and the audience. When Marco discovers the root of it all, his real problems begin.

I jokingly thought to myself, in the early going of Apartment 413, that a really daft reason for what’s happening to Marco would be that black mould in the air conditioning unit Marco loves to stand in front of was driving him insane – that’s how much Apartment 413 seem to focus on the device and his obsession with it… And would you believe it that’s EXACTLY where the film goes!

It’s hard to believe a film would telegraph something so blatantly but that’s what Ron Maede’s script does. But thankfully that’s merely a device on which to hang the blame for Marco’s mental illness, a symptom of it rather than a cause (watch the film, you’ll get that I mean by that); something he uses to justify the things he’s experienced. Phew! Because if that WAS the root cause then it would make something of a mockery of what had come before – undermining the fantastic way Apartment 413 portrays mental illness.

For that’s what this film is really about. An exploration of mental illness through the genre of horror. Marco is clearly suffering and it manifests in sometimes violent, sometimes terrifying visions, in hallucinations both auditory and visual; his health declines and his paranoia rises. It’s a stunning portrayal of how mental illness can affect people, in Marco’s case it all feels all too real. So real that when THAT point comes in the film, when you realise just how far his psychosis has taken him, that you ‘re hit in the pit of your stomach. A gut-punch that feels as hard for the audience as it must do for Marco.

Speaking of Marco, kudos to actor Nicholas Saenz. He carries the film on his shoulders and its his sensitive and believable portrayal of a man in the midst of psychosis that really makes Apartment 413 work. To use a cliche, it really is a tour-de-force performance.

Don’t go into Apartment 413 looking for a happy ending because this film is bleak. Very bleak. With a downbeat ending that is one of the most powerful I’ve seen in some time; one that, honestly, makes you question your own thoughts on mental illness.

***** 5/5

A small-scale, one-location movie that does and says more in it’s brief 80-minute runtime than a lot of big-budget horror fare, Apartment 413 is out now on digital from Terror Films. It’s a must-see.


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