Prod. Company: Al Bravo Films
Publisher Chemical Mind Studios
September 5th, 2015
2 Bedroom 1 Bath starts as your standard haunted house scenario. A young couple moves into a new home, surrounded by kids and two neighbors that constantly fight to the point where the police end up being called. You know, the typical problematic low-cost renting situation set in a ranchero in what seems to be a Spanish heavy population of town (or in the middle of Mexico, as the location is never really specified other than a similar name for the building the two now live at). However, prior to their moving in, a tragedy occurred in which a woman drowned her three kids. From here, the preconception is that this woman is haunting the place and able to possess the ladies that live there, all built up through various nightmares or events including someone knocking on the window, glimpses of the spirit in the mirror just out of the person’s view, and so on.
However, as the tale unfolds, it turns out there’s a lot more going on in the apartment, as well as outside it, than what you initially perceive. There’s someone breaking in looking for a former resident, the police are called multiple times, bodies are discovered, not to mention random letters and e-mails that hint towards the husband Kevin (Andrew W. Walker, Steel Toes, A Bride for Christmas) having an affair with the stereotypical wiccan goth girl in the school he teaches at who continuously makes advances at him for higher grades as though Kelly Bundy from Married… With Children. Tack on that his wife Rachel (Michele Hicks, Mulholland Drive, Messengers) hasn’t been able to have a child and losing interest in sex, it becomes a viable option that leaves you waiting for it to inevitably escalate.
And that becomes one of the main drawbacks for a good chunk of the film. 2 Bedroom 1 Bath throws a number of story lines that try to lead you away from the last, as if throwing you a red herring of some kind through various dramatic layers that come off more as poor writing of misdirection. In the first ten minutes of the film you go through a number of characters, all of which are set up as stereotypes, and only a few that end up being fleshed out to have a different intent than what you first assumed. On top of that, there are two different doctors that play up specific angles to the story, but with how little detail there is as to which is which other than a random name, you could easily become confused due to how interchangeable they become, even leading you to wonder if it’s a typo in the script nobody saw or bothered to correct. I assure you though, they very much are two different people. Much of the time Rachel brings up Dr. Carlson (Rachel Whitman Groves, Maggie, Under the Gun) when addressing concerns about her medications, but you don’t see her until much later in the film, thus leaving the viewer confused if you happen to miss the fertility doctor’s name, which is Dr. Philip Tenenbaum (Eric Roberts, The Dark Knight, The Cable Guy), during his many on-screen moments earlier on.
Honestly, the first thirty minutes of this film is just pure chaos on nearly every level. So much is introduced to the tale that it feels like a condensed daytime soap opera story line from an entire year for a special thirty minute uninterrupted broadcast. It also doesn’t help that there are a number of audio issues plaguing this movie most of the time including, but not limited to, no noise reduction, unequal levels, sudden cuts and constantly shifting background sounds during dialogue, poor audio looping that cuts in and out especially when a baby is crying, layering of dialogue that doesn’t sync when greeted with a home movie or television broadcast, an obnoxious as hell hum of electricity when shooting at night in the apartment, other random noises like the skipping of a record that the player reached the end of, sound effects that drown out key plot information being established, as well as sudden jumps that can cut off part of a conversation abruptly. While a few of these play up the old analog atmosphere that seems to have been a goal to this film both during production and afterwards, most seem unintentional or amateurish, only making them all the more irritating instead of charming.
Thankfully, 2 Bedroom 1 Bath actually looks far less amateurish than it winds up sounds. Visually, this is a fairly gritty looking movie, playing up the environments of classic seventies and eighties Spanish or Italian horror flicks, right down to sometimes have black edges in the corners that, truthfully, look foolish and have no real purpose other than to push that atmospheric tone forward. The yellow tint from the bulbs, and perhaps post-edit effects layered on in the apartment at night and in the basement, also just look incredibly obnoxious, thus making these shots seem as though someone had forgotten to white balance.
There’s also issues with cues and continuity to be found. When Kevin is speaking with Rose (Dee Wallace, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, The Howling) at one point when in another part of the building due to hearing a child, she just seems to randomly appear out of nowhere instead of naturally walking into frame or standing in the background like the film presents the case to be. There’s also the aforementioned student having a tattoo covered by her hair, but in another shot the hair is gone and you can see the barcode – the “mark of the beast” as it’s called – clear as day on her chest in a way that makes you question whether it was actually ever there in the first place. Other than that there are times in the asylum where extras stand in plain view waiting for their cue to move and get in someone’s way, as well as a death scene later on that finds the body blinking while still in frame of the camera. Finally the internet searches feature more key strokes than words that appear on the screen, which is just an issue that will both anyone who ever used a computer once, or at least knows the fundamentals of typing their name through a typewriter at the very least.
Tack all those little inconsistencies on with the absolutely obnoxious audio problems most of this film faces, and you have a movie that is genuinely rough to sit through most of the time. However, as if an entirely different crew had taken over by the half way mark, 2 Bedroom 1 Bath seems to correct a lot of these problems without warning around that very point. The story continues to have new elements added on that begin to make sense and play up more of a psychological angle than your traditional paranormal gothic horror story, the piss yellow filter and lighting is gone for the most part, a lot of the audio is cleaned up, and shots just end up being a lot tighter overall. The acting even seems to improve a bit thanks to the characters being given more than just one emotion each, and it’s a welcome change to have Rachel as something other than your generic moody bitch.
When 2 Bedroom 1 Bath isn’t cramming establishing shots and dialogue down your throat for the first thirty minutes and hands the film off to the metaphorical second production and post-production team, this stands as a solid film as far as the story and notable italian horror atmosphere goes. All the detours in the tale legitimately keep you guessing the whole time, faulty as some may be, leaving the last hour full of genuine moments of eerie tension thanks to a well paced script that does fall victim to some hackneyed dialogue or mood shifts here and there. And that’s the saddest part given how incredibly obnoxious this film is at the start. forcing this viewer to take something for the headache it caused, not to mention take fairly long breaks away from the insane amount of noise present early on. But, if you’re able to make it through all the faults mentioned and then some, it does wind up only mildly choppy sailing until the surprisingly satisfying conclusion prior to the hallway shot that feels a bit forced to wrap up one final loose end and open the door for a potential follow-up that does not need to happen. Had this film been in much more capable hands, it surely would have been a fantastic love letter to the days of gothic paranormal horror, and not a drop in the bucket with hidden potential than it wound up being.
|Overall Score: 5/10