June 4, 2013
This film should not be confused with "Apartment 143", also currently being shown in local theaters. "Apartment 1303" is another American production of a Japanese original horror flick. For a while, I thought that for a change, this American version could actually improve on the Japanese version, which was in itself bad. But as it ended, this was not really the case.
I have seen the Japanese version of Apartment 1303 before seeing the American version. The Japanese version was not in the league of "The Ring" or "The Grudge" at all. The story was so-so, and the quality of the film was not good. I am surprised that it was actually picked up for an American version. I guess they saw a chance to actually improve on a Japanese original and went for it.
In both versions, the story revolved around an apartment that a girl got for a good rental price. This girl falls out of her balcony and dies. Her sister comes over to investigate what happened. It turns out the apartment had a chilling history about a ghostly previous tenant who apparently did not want others to occupy her flat even long after her death. That's it. I frankly do not see anything remarkable about that generic story line.
In the Japanese version, this girl started acting strangely (like eat dog food) then jumped out of her balcony in the presence of her shocked friends right in the first ten minutes. In the American version, the girl Janet (Julianne Michelle) had about half the movie for herself, getting spooked crazy from Day 1 but staunchly staying (as most horror movie damsels do), even having a wild night of sex with her boyfriend there, before she fell off her balcony and died.
The family dynamics were also very different, particularly about the mother. In the Japanese version, the mother felt depressed out of her mind after her daughter's death, staying very quiet and withdrawn. In the American version, it could not be more different. The mother Maddie Slate was played by ex-screen vixen Rebecca de Mornay in a florid portrayal of an alcoholic ex-pop star at constant odds with her two daughters.
The ending has been changed significantly as well. In any case the endings are both not executed very well. The Japanese had a more satisfying ending idea, but the way it was shown on screen was very awkward and corny. In the American version though, the ghost responsible for the mayhem was changed. The events and the aftermath were also very different, but far blander and boring. I felt they should have just improved how to present the original Japanese ending, but they took the safer way out. 3/10