Notable Cast: Timothy Gibbs, Michael Landes, Wendy Glenn
Review: Mixing horror with religion is always a laborious task, failing more times than pleasing. We can point to The Exorcist, or The Omen, or in recent history even [REC] (as it unfolds) to show the effective blending of both genres. Fun wasn’t lost, and neither was emphasis on beliefs. But in the same respect, we have to call to memory such lemons as Legion, The Unborn, The Rite, and for me The Last Exorcism (took me a few tries to make it through on account of my numerous boredom induced naps). Bousman’s 11-11-11 falls into the lower crust that includes the later titles, not offering much substance or actual terror. The horror feels too forced and rushed, almost as if Bousman finished the film and forgot to add any scares which led to some cutting and pasting in the editing room. Even with that, the blessed story seemed plenty holy, and by that I mean like a piece of swiss cheese. This “Splat Pack” director is still trying to find his footing after helming numerous Saw films, but 11-11-11 may be his rockiest endeavour yet. Now go watch 5 better horror films and reflect on what you just saw, Amen.
After his wife and son are slain by a ferocious house fire, novelist Joseph Crone (Gibbs) has given up on faith. In his eyes, no benevolent ruler would let such a undeserving death be issued to innocent people. He continues to write, but his characters inherit that same lack of faith. Too bad he can’t shake the number 11:11 that has haunted him his whole life, appearing on a more and more frequent basis. He doesn’t understand initially, but becomes more obsessed when he returns home to Barcelona to stay with his dying father and brother Simon (Landes). Joseph starts seeing hallucinations of beings, and always around 11:11. As the date reaches 11-11-11, these visions only get more vivid. Finding out there may be have been a bigger reasoning for being summoned to Barcelona, Joseph becomes increasingly involved in the religious mystery shrouding 11:11 and struggles with the notion of an all-knowing being actually existing. Is he going insane? Or are his hallucinations much more than just mind tricks…
Repetitive usage of a symbolic statue throughout the move? Must be important…
…Mind trick or reality though, 11-11-11 was anything but almighty. Bousman’s religious commentary did a fantastic job trying to build a story out of the typical “man struggles with the existence of a higher power” in a new light, but falters in actually delivering it. I felt a bit of story ADD going on, as the script flies from start to finish, never taking a moment to reflect on the preceding events. Joseph goes from faithless, confused, conflicted, and enlightened in such a rushed matter, it’s hard to appreciate the religious intricacies being manipulated. Bousman’s script finds ways to give the illusion of originality, giving back story and meaning to the beings haunting Joseph. He even finds a cool way to not call them demons/spirits/ghosts/any other interchangeable meaning for apparition in using “Midwayers,” seemingly giving 11-11-11 its own touch. But as I said, pacing was completely off, and Joseph’s realizations are all too abrupt. He sees people appearing out of nowhere, does some Google research, and cue the climactic ending. Bousman had the right idea picking an apocalyptic event that didn’t involve 2012 or any of the usual suspects, but throws it away on poor execution.
But distractions were also subtracting from the overall experience, taking focus away from Bousman’s story. First of all, the “horror” of the situation was terribly mishandled. From a cinematic standpoint, the shots that involved “scares” were set up directly in our face, and instead of listening to Joseph ramble on about why he could possibly be going insane, we’re watching that patch of darkness just kept curiously in focus while waiting for some creepy face to pop out. In a terribly uninspired way, Bousman just goes for obvious and cheap jump scares set up by zero lighting to hide the things going bump in the night. The horror took a page from the original Paranormal Activity jump scare play book (hey looks it’s a character…OH WTF IS THAT!), but with none of the excitement or payoff. 11-11-11 was insulting and frustrating, as we were forced into a feeling of anxiety while scanning the darkness for some wrinkly cultish beings. These type of horror films are a chore to watch, hating to give the satisfaction of a raised heart rate or gasp to such a bully of a genre flick.
Also distracting was the hammed up character acting of some…well…all actors. Timothy Gibbs, best known for random TV appearances and some under the radar flicks, over plays the shock and horror Joseph deals with to an almost laughable extent. Bringing his soap star expertise, Gibbs over sells every scare, throwing himself over desks and tripping over random objects in the room just at the sight of a floating face. Gibbs overkilled the emotions of his character, and was comically distracting at times from other occurrences on-screen. The relationship between Joseph and Sadie (Glenn) was also such a poor evolution, watching Joseph blindly trust a complete stranger with his life. Flying to Barcelona on a whim to be with a man you just met? Hello red flag, nice to meet you! Stage 5 clinger! Character interactions were not on a normal human level (and yes, I’m aware this is a religious horror film), and there was no connection to the screen. For a potentially creative film, 11-11-11 tries it’s hardest to benevolently destroy all it creates.
The real 11-11-11 came and went, the world still stands, more “prophets” have been proven wrong, and it can now be marked as just another day. Much can be said for the film 11-11-11: it came, will soon be gone, and certainly is just another film. Tense moments are set up, for example using that statue pictured above as the symbol for everything that tortures Joseph, but no moment ever comes to fruition from it. Some epic ending of Joseph actually battling his demons in the form of that statue would have been a more meaningful means to an end, but instead Bousman tries to Saw things up and throw you a curveball. A 60 mile an hour curve that my grandma could hit. Sorry Bousman, but this film should be banished to depths not even the Devil himself can lay eyes on.
Final Rating: 4 cult following freaks out of 10
Dark = Creepy A) Sometimes? B) Always? C) Never?