You may feel like you’ve seen this all before, but these two films on Prime really add something unexpected, making this a fun and familiar double feature with some surprises along the way.
APARTMENT 212 (2017)
As a big fan of director Haylar Garcia’s film An American Terror, I was excited to check this one out, and once again, he makes the seemingly obvious not so predictable. It starts out body horror, but eventually turns into Trilogy of Terror Zuni doll zaniness. Actually, the plot is similar to that of the movie Gremlin, with the little creature coming from an antique box.
I was loving the 90s girl group vibe of the opening credits montage. A young woman arrives at an apartment complex and meets her new neighbors, including landlord Sally Kirkland and a nice older guy who comes across quite gay even though it’s never verified.
The slow pacing establishes some creepy scenarios (like the main girl hearing sobbing through her vents every night), so it’s not until 30 minutes in that she begins getting what she thinks are bug bites.
The negative effects of the bites make her look like some sort of druggy, which begins affecting her life. But this is the tamest body horror ever, since she really just has blotchy bites and pale skin. Nothing too disgusting here, so you don’t have to worry about that if you’re squeamish.
It’s not until an hour and fourteen minutes in that she finally discovers the box which leads to an extremely long sequence of her just fighting a little flying critter in a room.
It’s a very odd and sudden turn of events for the character, and it just feels like there was no progression for her to confidently fall into battling this otherworldly thing. It is a good battle, though.
With 74 minutes to get us to the big confrontation, it feels like there should have been more of a buildup of her seeing signs of what she was contending with…or others dying maybe. It would have sped up the pacing a bit, because the body horror part doesn’t quite stay compelling enough to fill the minutes.
Of course, the more obvious ScareBearDan solution? Edit 15 minutes out of the film.
But not the minutes featuring her asshole ex-husband or the cute EMT guy…
THE CAMPUS (2018)
J.Horton, the director of Monsters in the Woods, brings us what could easily be shunned as just an off-brand version of Happy Death Day.
However, aside from the general idea of a girl dying over and over again, The Campus has a quite unique premise that leads it to be a sort of anthology film where every story happens to the same girl.
See, the main girl doesn’t keep reliving the same day. She dies differently every time…from a variety of horror subgenre causes, such as home invasion, ghost, body horror, and even zombies! Now that’s what I call fun.
The idea relates back to an Aztec belief that in order to steal your soul, the devil needs 5 separate parts of your being. So the girl dies with each new piece he acquires.
There are suspenseful chase scenes and some surprisingly good effects, particularly the gore, along with some cheesy 80s style effects that make me nostalgic for the days of bad fire and floating ghost visuals. There’s even a segment drenched in the kind of red light that was made so popular in the best decade ever.
The music is also great, reminding me very much of John Carpenter’s score to The Fog. Granted, it feels overused or misplaced in certain scenes in this film, but when it works, it really works, and it helps give me those good horror feels.
The whole vibe reminds me more of the midnight movie fun of Devil’s Domain than Happy Death Day.