I wanted to really like Apartment 212 (also known as Gnaw), I really did but the final 20-30 minutes pays off an enjoyable mystery horror with a lacklustre ending and a finale sting in the tail that can be seen coming a mile away.
The movie stars Penelope Mitchell as Jennifer. A young woman escaping a life of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, Boyd (Chris Johnson). She finds a place to stay at an apartment block hoping to turn her life around but it’s no easy task as we see her get a parking ticket and blow a job interview.
It’s coming out of this failed job interview that she runs into an old high school friend who offers her a job. Just turn up for the interview in a month but it is nothing more then a formality. The job is hers. Jennifer is over the moon and excitedly marks the day on her calendar. Things are looking up!
Credit to Penelope Mitchell here, her character is unoriginal white trash but she is incredibly likeable. Her optimism is wonderful and it’s near impossible to not root for her as she suffers set back after set back.
So much is said without words. Subtle nuances in faces and reactions to events brings hidden depths to the surface. Almost all characters are brought to life wonderfully and often without words being spoken. Kyle Gass as Jennifer’s neighbour is wonderfully kind, Sally Kirkland as the cranky, judgmental landlord Claudette is insufferable and Chris Johnson as the abusive Boyd is slimy and gross.
The latter doesn’t get many scenes but when he does appear, he is an abhorrent man even though we never see him lift a finger to Jennifer.
Even a minor character, one that Jennifer first hears crying every night before running into her outside, oozes pain and suffering. It’s this character that kick starts the horror as she kills herself one night.
Jennifer finds a an ornate jewellery box adorned with a creature amongst her discarded belongings and decides to take it home. From this point on Jennifer suffers sleepless night after sleepless night as small wounds and cuts begin to appear on her body.
She goes to a doctor who concludes they appear to be bites. As the nights go by, Jennifer’s mind begins to unravel made all the worse by an exterminator finding nothing and Boyd finding out where she lives.
Is this all in her head or is something literally feeding on her as she sleeps?
It’s fairly obvious from the get-go that the box is related so when we reach the big reveal it’s hardly a surprise. Jennifer’s likability makes you desperate for her to get out of this horrible predicament in one piece but the eventual showdown just lacks impact. It just gets a bit silly as she battles some sort of small winged demon creature. It looks pretty bad and their back and forth goes on for far too long.
When it finally reaches its conclusion, it is Jennifer’s determination to no longer be a victim that turns the tide. It then leads to something that probably sounded more satisfying on paper then it is played out on the screen.
Disappointing finale aside, Apartment 212 is a good film thanks to the fantastic cast. They make it a movie worth watching. It’s just hard to love it.