13 Seconds (2003)
WRITER: Jeff Thomas
DIRECTOR: Jeff Thomas
STARRING: April Cole as Kara
Daniel Rain as Gage
Kevin Kuras as Mac
Robert Yensch as Colin
Sarah Corbin as Talia
Spencer Stevens as Musato
Daniel Rowe as Adramalech
Esa Scott as Shapiro
Robert Miller as Sidetrack
Jeff Thomas as Davis
QUICK CUT: A group of musicians go to an abandoned sanitarium or whatever to record their latest album, but the bullshit is not what it seems...
Davis - A down on his luck musician, trying to make it big, with dark skeletons in his past, a history of drug use, and a lot of anger issues.
Sidetrack - A sound engineer, and friend of Davis's. And if you think Davis has anger issues, wait 'til you meet THIS guy...
Talia and Kara - The girlfriends of the group, who don't have much personality beyond that. The most emotion they give is the ever dreaded Dull Surprise.
Everyone else pretty much just floats through the plot.
THE GUTS: Happy Octoberween, Triskolanterns! As you might be noticing, this review is NOT being posted on the usual 13th of the month, but nearly a week ahead of time. That's because October 2015, marks Triskaidekafiles 6th, 6th! 6TH!! anniversary. Yes, that's right, I have been doing this for six years, and 170 reviews. And to celebrate, I am reviewing three movies in the middle of the month that have 13 in their title. Because I'll run with any kind of theme for shits and giggles. And why three? I dunno, but it seemed like a good number of 13 related reviews to do for the 6th, 6th! 6TH!! anniversary.
Which brings us to THIS review, the first of the those anniversary reviews...13 Seconds! Some of you might be familiar with this movie via a review by Obscurus Lupa that she did a number of years ago. But this movie is so...special...that I had to give my own words on it. So let's do this!
Anyways, on to the movie! We get things rolling with Davis rolling around in bed with bad nightmares of blood and guns, until he hears something go smashy in the middle of the night. Like good canon fodder, he goes to investigate. He doesn't find anything but all his electrical appliances going off all at once. I *hate* that.
Oh, and some creepy pale vampire dude wandering around, and some graffiti on the walls. But the attack shocks Davis awake, and IT WAS ALL A DREAM. Well, okay, it's setting tone. Fine. I'll allow some reality bending this early. But you better watch it, movie!!
That morning, or near enough to care, Davis meets up with the rest of his band at Creepy McMansion to work on their next album. Because I know when I wanna record an album, I go to the least studio like place imaginable!
We meet the band, and ugh, they're all various levels of jerks. How do these people work together? Also, let the bad acting competition begin. I dunno who the winner is, but I think we all lose.
So we meet the Asshole Brigade, and check out the creepy house, which does a terrible job establishing the geography of the placeWe just see random room after random room. And y'know, for a bunch of people who came here to record an album, there sure is a lot of pissing around reading magazines and finding Necronomicons in the library.
Oh, and I hope you love the same four notes in the score, because you will hear them over, and over, and over again for the entire movie!
Mac and Sidetrack are actually doing their jobs at least, since they're the sound engineers, and getting the place wired up. Along the way, Sidetrack finds a loose piece of molding, and discovers another evil book, and a box of teeth. Okay, that's nice and creepy at least.
Elsewhere, Gage is exploring and finds a night gallery, but lacking any Rod Serling. It's filled with blank paintings, except when they're not, because they need to reveal plot details in vague blobs of paint, or warn of deaths.
Another thing, everyone in this movie sounds so serious and or sinister. Every damned line sounds like a threat. They either have zero emotion, or somehow make "I have no idea what's going on" sound like they're about to cut you for daring to think they have an answer.
While those two shoot up, because drug use is cool, Talia and Kara are hanging out, and hear a child crying. But that's not weird enough for this movie, so an empty tricycle squeaks by. Sorry, 13 Seconds, but after box o' teeth, empty tricycle is kind of a step down on the creepometer.
Sidetrack's finally got the sound system ready and is all set to roll, but oops, the actual musicians have flaked off to various places. And he's being a massive asshole about it. Actually, he's kind of a massive asshole anyways, but now he's moreso. Oh, and he's chewing on the teeth he found. Because why not?
Oh, and because there's not enough canon fodder in this movie already, yet ANOTHER character walks on in, Shapiro, and why do I care? It's already hard enough juggling all these people, what's one more bland person with only a single dull emotion?
Talia and Shapiro visit the gallery and check out some new paintings that appeared, and act moderately bored with dull surprise at it all. Just a single emotion, that's all I ask for, people.
Davis takes a nap, because apparently no one is *actually* here to record shit. He gets woken up by a call on a disconnected phone, and then wanders the empty halls. The upside is, at least he wasn't shouting anyone's name.
He finds a blood soaked room and and a body wrapped in plastic. Which then sits up to say Yo, and Davis wakes up once more. BECAUSE IT WAS ALL A DREAM.
Okay, 13 Seconds. You can't pull that trick anymore. You are officially overdoing it, and trying my patience.
Shapiro leaves Talia alone in the attic where everyone should be, because they're actually there for a reason. But since no one's there, he goes to try and find Davis to again try and get things rolling. Please.
After another creepy moment in the gallery, Gage heads to his room. Seriously, why keep going to check out the paintings, if every time it leaves you freaked out? Anyways, once he's in his room, Gage's worst nightmare, which he relayed earlier, comes to pass when the lights turn off and he gets attacked.
He gets snapped in half, dragged under his bed, and finally it feels like things are happening in this movie.
Meanwhile, Davis is wandering around some more, being stalked by a guy, who doesn't take very long to stab him through the chest like he's Elektra's stunt double.
Okay kids, pop quiz time! What happens next?
A) Davis is actually dead, and the movie pulled a surprise, killing him off in the middle of the story, to keep you off guard.
B) This is actually the end of the movie.
Or C) IT WAS ALL A DREAM.
If your guess was C, congratulations, you could have written this movie.
Seriously, movie. You are getting on every last nerve right now.
But at least they make up for it by Colin suddenly having trouble breathing while sleeping, because everyone would rather be sleeping than working, apparently! Until a hand bursts out of his stomach and strangles him. Colin got killed by his colon...
Davis and Shapiro visit the gallery while people are dying, and try to have an important moment, where Shapiro feels like he's about to explain the plot, thankfully.
At least, he was going to do that, until a painting fell off the wall and ruined the carpet by bleeding everywhere.
Fortunately, the painting warns them that Mac is about to die, so they try to find and save him. Without actually bothering to go, "Hey! This painting was blank a second ago! Now we're heeding it's visions of doom!"
But there's no hope for Mac, as a rotting guy in a straightjacket ?! suddenly appears, upside down crucifies him to the wall, slices his guts open, and uses his intestines to choke him. Talk about overkill. Any *one* of those would do the trick.
As everyone looks for Mac, Sidetrack checks out the cars, and discovers the engine is...well, it's gone. Definitely not doing anything in half measures. No one's going anywhere with zero engine. There's not even engine to fix!
They try to get help and fail miserably, until Sidetrack asks if anyone has a cellphone. And everyone actually does! And when they try and call for help, naturally they can't get through. And more dull surprise and bland concern over this turn of events!
Kara does managed to get ahold of Colin's cellphone, but only gets bad reception, and blood leaking out of it. Well, there's yer problem!
They decide to check the library for maps or blueprints of the place, and Davis strikes off on his own. But he says the rest should be safe, because nothing bad every happens in a library. Uhhh, did you *see* my review of The Creeps? And if that's not enough, just ask the Doctor.
Davis checks out Gage's room and only finds his special lucky lighter. Oh, and keeps encountering creepily wrapped up bleeding dude. I *swear* if he wakes up from ANOTHER dream...
But no, not this time. They found plans and regroup. Oh, and the plot actually advances when Talia luckily finds a journal about people there who killed a boy in a ritual sacrifice to the pagan god Adramalech, who's also been signing all the paintings.
Anyways, it's time to hold a seance, since this is a haunted house movie! Sidetrack has the place rigged for sound to pick up anything that might go bump in the night. All they need is a spirit board, but they wouldn't just... Huh. Somehow they DO just so happened to have one with them? Okay then.
The seance does it's creepy thing, with the usual threats of death, but Sidetrack at least picked something up, and sends Davis and Shapiro to another part of the building to grab whomever it is.
But they don't find whomever it is in the gallery, so they must be in the basement! I guess. Because reasons. Anyways, they board up the basement doors, to keep it trapped down there, but that trick never works.
After a brief issue with bleeding walls, they head back up to Sidetrack, who plays back the seance, with cries of "Let me out!" and "Help me!" now being audible. Wow, the movie picked up my own please, years in the future.
Tempers run high, and a fight breaks out between Sidetrack and Davis over Kara, and ugh this is a random subplot they didn't really build up. I don't care about domestic drama at this point in the movie.
Sidetrack gets knocked out and duct taped to a chair, and he's pretty much snapped, because reasons. The movie needs someone to yell bullshit rantings about Adramalech, so why not Sidetrack?
Things get weird, Davis checks out the attic, and finds a weird dude spitting out blood and all scarred up. The movie is just gonna kinda pile on the weirdness from this point onward.
Like heading back to Friedback's room, and in the span of the lights flickering, the room is painted over in blood. And more spouting creepy BS by Criedthwack about Yopnoptatawpaw. Oh, and there's also arguing between Sidetrack and Shapiro over who Davis belongs to. Oh. Oh no.
While Shapiro and Talia try and have a randomly deep discussion about how God can allow a child to die, Davis and Kara listen to the recordings again to try and find more clues.
Davis figures out that this entire night has been engineered to get them down into the basement, so they pull off the boards, and try and move the plot along for the final act. Yay!
While Davis and Kara head into the basement, Talia wanders off alone, and finds a trio of greasers pounding out some guy's teeth, and I presume they're the ones Hotblack mistook for Tic-Tacs.
Everyone runs afoul of straightjacket zombies with hatchets, and Kara escapes the basement before it gets boarded back up, leaving Davis to run around until he can find some vents to crawl into and find his own way out.
While Davis does his best Die Hard impression, he eventually pokes his way through a rubber wall, into a room filled with bloody, dangling bodies.
He keeps running through the walls, until he eventually peels his way through one of the paintings in the gallery. And at this point, we have left reality behind several exits ago, haven't we?
But that's not all, as the wacky wall walkers have followed Davis to the gallery, and start peeling their own way through the paintings. Who do they think they are, Freddy Krueger?
Shapiro and Talia head to the gallery, while Davis finds Kara elsewhere. Shapiro sees a painting showing Talia's hacked up body parts, and when he turns around, she's dead because a painting said so, I guess.
Oh, and it's just about time for Tapedcrack to escape, so he does that while everyone is busy. So Davis decides to go find him, while Kara watches the paintings to try and help. Or something.
After they think Davis has been killed, Shapiro decides to drop an infobomb on Kara, because we might as well explain shit.
He reveals that Arthur Solomon somehow translates to Martin Solo. Which was also the name of Davis's imaginary friend. And Martin was the name of Davis's brother, except he was an only child. Because Martin died. Because Davis killed his brother when he was a kid, to stop the drug-fueled rampage his brother was on.
...What? I *kinda* follow that, but it still somehow manages to be too murky by half.
Anyways, because baby Davis killed his brother, he never forgave himself, aaaand then Kara gets dragged off by the straightjacket brigade, because she can't survive any longer.
On top of that, Shapiro tries to be deep and tell Davis to let go, forgive himself, or else he will just become a part of his own imagination and I am lost. There's a weird thing with the band's last CD, and I think Shapiro was a member? Was he Martin? Or Arthur? I don't know. If that image of the band on the CD is supposed to mean a damned thing, the *movie should explain it*.
With all that mess out of the way, an old guy shows up, because someone needs to tell Davis the rest of the plot now that everyone's dead. The zombies aren't talkative.
Nope, just Adramalech. Far less threatening. Whom Davis calls by name, before shouting, "WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU??" Um, but...you just...never mind. I give up.
Davis sees the zombies hacking up someone else, and tries to chase them as they drag the body off. Meanwhile, the lights all start shutting down, the house plunging into darkness, and doors slamming shut, until only the gallery remains for Davis to be bored in.
Adramalech shows up again and tells Davis it was him back at his house at the start of this mess, and there's some more philosophical BS about God trying to save Davis, and twisting words.
The important thing here is, Davis overdosed shortly after arriving when shooting up with Gage, in his sorrow that never let up over his murder of Martin, the rest of the movie taking place only in Davis' head.
"This night...never occurred."
THE ENTIRE MOVIE. WAS A DREAM.
Fuuuuhhhh. Fffff. Hsssstthhh.
I WISH THIS NEVER HAPPENED. So. No one died. Not a single person, save for Davis. They're all standing over Davis for the last 13 seconds (TITLE DROP!) as he convulses in his overdose. In the last moments, Davis finally asks God to forgive him but oops! Now he IS dead, and never asked in time, and God can't forgive people who are dead! Tiny little detail in the fine print! Haw haw!
Oh, and Shapiro was an angel, trying to get Davis to do the right thing before his time was up. This entire movie was a struggle between bland toque wearing angel dude, and the devil whom we don't see until the final seconds of the movie, all for Davis's soul. Was...was this guy really worth it? I'm not so sure.
What a pile of metaphysical horsepuckey. Dreams within dreams within dreams...this is the Inception of stupidity, isn't it?
Video: Pretty bad, but not terrible. You can tell this is a very indie project with almost no budget.
Audio: Reeally quiet. They should've had Sidetrack and Mac rig the sound, because all the sound in this movie sounds terrible and fake. The ADRing after the fact didn't help either, and I'm sure that's what killed any sense of emotion.
Sound Bite: "Ghosts do not have audible footsteps!" But seriously, almost every line is pure gold. They're just regular lines, but the delivery of each and every one is classic. It's either over the top with anger, tinged with sinister intent that's not there, or devoid of all emotion all together.
Body Count: Hssssss. I am counting the deaths that didn't die, because damnit, I saw them happen, and they're genuinely not bad.
1 - 24 minutes, Gage gets snapped in half and yanked under the bed.
2 - Colin dies thanks to a handy chestburster that is ALSO a facehugger.
3 - After being hung upside down, nailed to a wall, sliced open, and strangled with his own guts, Mac dies in a pretty gruesome fashion.
4 - Talia dies because a painting said so.
5 - Kara gets dragged off by zombies.
6 - Shapiro gets killed because Davis didn't believe in fairies or something.
7 - Davis dies, invalidating every other death to this point
Best Corpse: You might think Mac, and that's good, but I'm weirdly partial to Gage being broken in half so he becomes travel sized and yanked under the bed.
Blood Type - A: Well, the movie has something going for it, right? There's quite a bit of blood, from bleeding paintings, to painted walls, to dead people. I genuinely can't complain here.
Sex Appeal: Noooope.
Drink Up! Every time someone says a line with zero emotion. Enjoy your liver failure! =D
Video Nasties: Oh, I could've just shared this whole mess, and I had quite a few choices. But I went with the seance because it's thrillingly bland, with all the movie's worst excesses.
Movie Review: Aaaaahahaahahahahhahhhahaa. How the heck did this movie receive so many awards and accolades?? The plot is ultimately pointless, the acting is terrible, and I am sorry Jeff Thomas. Justifying it in the commentary by saying that it's all Davis's internal selves, so that's why they're underplayed...no. That's a fairly lame justification. The film is actually shot well enough, in much the same way you can say early Kevin Smith movies are *shot* well, but you can see they're early projects, and they just kinda point and go. I could see Thomas developing into a decent enough filmmaker, someday. But everything about the film beyond the ability to use a camera is just sooo bad. And no amount of justifying it by "It was all a dream!" will make it better. The plot, what there is of it, is poorly explained, by people with no emotion, and less caring by the viewer. This feels like a rough draft that needed a few more passes and better everything. And it's funny, and entirely coincidental, that I just yesterday reviewed Haunter, which is also about a mysterious tale that revolves around someone trying to figure out the hows and whys of weird happenings involving them already being dead. That movie did the idea SO much better, although since the two are so wildly different in the stories they're telling, it's not *really* fair to compare the two. But I do it anyways. Two out of three spare teeth.
Entertainment Value: But boy, is this movie entertaining as all Hell. You can almost forgive most of the movie, by having an actual plot, even though everything is done so poorly. There's genuinely something there, even if it doesn't quite come together. But once the movie kicks into actually explaining things and kicking over the entire plot with IT WAS ALL A DREAM, the whole thing flies off the rails. If it had come up with a different ending, or a better way to get to that point, it might have been an okay little indie flick. But it is such a mess. And so damned entertaining. You just spend the entire time staring in mute horror that this was actually made. Every line delivery hurts. It's so great to watch. It's not "The Room" bad, but it's pretty bad in its own special ways. Four out of five straightjacket zombies.