A.P.T. (Apartment)

“Aren’t you lonely?”

These are the words a young female dressed in red speaks to Sae-jin (Ko So-young) right before she jumps onto the subway tracks and tries to pull Sae-jin along with her. At the last moment Sae-jin is able to jerk away from her grasp, but not from her guilt at not saving the woman. Sae-jin is a single career woman living alone in a group of high rise apartments where no one knows their neighbors and no one really cares about them. Director Ahn Byung-ki (Nightmare, Phone, and Bunshinsaba) paints a sterile melancholy world of urban dislocation and angst – a far cry from old fashioned community. The subway incident begins to dwell on Sae-jin’s mind and she stops going to work and begins to spend much of her day watching the apartment building across from her with a pair of binoculars – and like the film’s obvious influence, Rear Window, everyone seems to keep their windows open to public scrutiny much of the time. Then the shades are drawn and bad things happen.

Sei-jin begins to feel haunted by the dead woman in the subway – she hears the sound of her loud clickety-clack high heels walk across the floor, senses her under her bed or in her shower, sees a malevolent eye on the other side of her door. Is she going crazy or has this woman come to haunt her? Meanwhile an odd series of suicides are occurring in the other apartment building and Sei-jin watches – and begins to put some things together – every death appears to occur at exactly the same time and right before the death the lights in the building begin to flash off and on. She gives this information to the police, but of course they tell her to mind her own business and stop watching her neighbors. The deaths continue. Sei-jin meets one of the tenants across the street – Yoo-yeon (Jang Hee-jin) – a pretty wheelchair bound woman who first asks Sei-jin the same question as the woman in red – “Aren’t you lonely?” Feeling protective of Yoo-yeon, Sei-jin continues to investigate the deaths and to go into dark places where she shouldn’t.

The film has a few well-drawn out creepy moments – ones as simple and traditional as opening a door to see who is on the other side – but overall the film never goes for the jugular and settles for unnerving atmosphere and a story that slowly unravels to reveal a tragic past. It is almost too somber for its own good and a pretty but blank faced performance from Ko So-young doesn’t pull you in as much as it should have. Towards the end as all is revealed it gets a bit convoluted and nebulous and I honestly didn’t understand it all – but it is a film that keeps you puzzled and intrigued till then.

My rating for this film: 6.0


Reviewed: 03/07