“The Apartment” (“El apartamento”)


Screened at the 40th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival (2.5/5); Letterboxd (2.5/5), Imdb.com (5/10), TMDB.com (5/10) 

Those familiar with my writing know that I’m not much of a fan of horror films, though I have been somewhat encouraged by the emergence of “smart horror” releases in recent years – scary movies that seek to do more than just try to see how high they can get the body count by film’s end. So I was naturally intrigued by this debut feature by writer-director Michael Kovich Jr., which tells the story of a man (Bruno Sosa Bofinger) who unwittingly finds himself imprisoned in his own apartment, with massive chains covering his front door from the inside. Based on its impressive trailer, the picture suggests that it’s going to provide viewers with more than what they typically expect from such fare, thanks in large part to its stylish production design and gorgeous black-and-white cinematography. Regrettably, however, “The Apartment” doesn’t live up to that potential, mainly because its narrative is wholly predictable. It doesn’t take long to figure out what’s going on here (I called it after about 10 minutes into its 1:27:00 runtime), and that kind of predictability is, for me, the cardinal sin of filmmaking, no matter how elaborately the production may be dressed up. As a consequence, the film limps along with tedious pacing and tiresome redundant sequences, clearly padding a story that ultimately doesn’t have much substance going for it. It also suffers from an excess of scenes featuring graphic depictions of domestic violence, material that could have easily been scaled back without losing any meaningful impact. The bottom line is that this disappointing release represents a missed opportunity to help elevate a genre very much in need of new life. Instead, we’re left with an offering stuck in an old mold, despite an attempt to use upgraded aesthetics to make it more than it is. And there’s nothing frightening in that.