1BR (2019) [Grimmfest 2019 Review]

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1BR (2019)
Written and Directed by David Marmor

A young woman named Sarah attempts to start a new life for herself in LA and manages to bag a sought-after apartment in a gated complex, complete with access to communal swimming pool and facilities. On first glance, it appears like the dream accommodation whilst she juggles a temp job at an office to support her blooming career as a dressmaker and seamstress. However, the joy of having her own place soon turns to despair when she starts experiencing sleepless nights from the noise of the the pipes banging during the early hours of the morning. Add this to the anonymous threats after someone discovers that she’s smuggled her cat Giles into the apartment, when the accommodation has a strict no-pet policy, Sarah begins to feel like she might have made a bad decision after all…

Horror thriller 1BR will make you rethink any ideas of moving to somewhere new alone with this intense story of a woman who finds herself in a living nightmare.

When we first meet Sarah, she’s unsure but eager to make a go of things in LA. Having a troubled relationship with her father and step-mother, she wants to move on and attempt to make something of her life by pursuing her passion for dressmaking; something her father disapproves of and thinks will lead nowhere. Undeterred, she manages to find temp work to pay the bills between enrolling for extra dressmaking classes and secures the apartment that she viewed at an open house day. Despite being overjoyed at landing on her feet, she’s held back by her low self-esteem as her boss takes advantage of her at the office and her father continues to belittle and crush her confidence.

Quiet but caring, Sarah is a likeable character so when we see things start to go her way, you can’t help but feel happy for her and hope she makes a success of things, not only for herself but to prove her controlling father wrong. Her interactions with her sassy friend at work, Lisa, and beloved ginger tabby cat Giles highlight her resolve to make her life in LA work so when things start to turn sour at her new apartment, you wonder how much shit this girl needs to take to be free to live her life. Well, it seems more than I could have imagined.

1BR is a frightening tale that doesn’t seem so out-there despite its premise. Shot mainly in the apartment complex, the plot hangs heavy over the character and viewer, creating a feeling of claustrophobia and despair. You start to wonder how she could have found herself in this situation but then question if would you have done anything differently to her? Pushed to the brink, both physically and mentally, Sarah’s struggle transcends the screen and weighs down on the viewer as the situation around her intensifies leaving her very little option to escape. It’s utterly draining and painful to watch as you empathise with the character of Sarah and her attempt to evolve from this downtrodden flower into a strong woman who knows her worth.

A film like this relies heavily on its supporting cast and it manages to create a sizzling pot of tension thanks to the variety of characters involved in the story help to create the feeling of community that the filmmakers were obviously looking for. From the elder generation of former film star Miss Stanhope to middle-aged nurse Esther and the young, dashing neighbour Brian, the complex feels like any usual apartment building might, which makes it all the scarier. How would you be able to tell? Where are the warning signs? There is none and this is where the real horror hits home. Something like this could easily be going on right now and no-one would be any the wiser until you were actually in the middle of it yourself.

The slow-burning suspense of 1BR isn’t afraid in providing a gut-punch under the guise of a welcoming face. This attitude only makes you root for Sarah more. Nicole Brydon Bloom perfectly performs the various mental states that Sarah transitions through as she attempts to deal with the situation she finds herself in. The story practically hinges on her performance and she delivers it with such grace and gusto when required to have the viewer hanging on her every action. In a film that requires the lead to connect to the audience, Bloom does just that.

A tense and terrifying experience, 1BR is an intimate shocker which easily gets under your skin.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Bat
About Bat 7708 Articles
I love prosthetic effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: GTA Online & Mortal Kombat 11

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