Sunday, October 20, 2019


So many movies about Los Angeles are basically that crazy street dude in the opening and closing moments of Pretty Woman writ feature length -- you know the dude. The dude who screams, "Everybody comes to Hollywood got a dream; what's your dream?" And yes I know that from memory thank you very much. Did you know the original version of Pretty Woman was supposed to be much darker than Garry Marshall's sex-worker confection ended up being? Something closer to Ken Russell's 1991 film Whore, which was itself a reaction to Julia Roberts' princess in pleather fantasia.

1BR isn't about prostitutes at all -- Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom) has moved to L.A. from Small Town Wherever to work in a nondescript office job pushing papers while she vaguely sketches costumes on the side; we're really not sure what Sarah wants to do, if she has that big dream the Pretty Woman street-dude spoke of, except to just not be in Small Town Wherever anymore, nagged at by an overbearing parent, which is admittedly a relatable trait if ever.

Perhaps Sarah's vagueness is what appeals to the sinister forces that close in on her as she tries to find her footing -- she moves into a dream apartment complex full of totally super friendly neighbors, kind old faces and a hot dude next door; what could possibly go wrong, asks the person who has never seen a movie. Kind of like Mulholland Drive minus the surreality 1BR makes it clear that a lot can happen in those closed off unto themselves little buildings; somewhere after the paper plate cook-out and before the body mutilations and brainwashing one has to wonder, should I have just worked out my issues with Daddy?

Ultimately 1BR falls in alongside Jaume Balagueró's Sleep Tight (which was just remade earlier this year in South Korea as Door Lock, reviewed here) and Karyn Kusama's The Invitation, right there in that grouping of "Home is where the Horror is" flicks, although the film does  feel its impact lessened a bit by the fact I can so easily point to several other movies that've trod, if not the exact same, close enough footsteps before. But Bloom is certainly sympathetic and appealing -- there's something reminiscent of Natalie Dormer going on -- and writer-director David Marmor throws just enough shy of the kitchen sink at her in all these enclosed spaces so you're rooting for L.A. to lose, maybe just this once.

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