Horror fans nationwide have been, from what I can tell, waiting with bated
breath for this one to come out.
And just why, I can't tell. 13 Seconds will prove to be by lengths
incomprehensible and terrifying, and the juxtaposition (wow, I can't believe I
finally managed to slip that clunker in a column!) of the two will leave
audiences scratching their heads.
So what we have here is the story of death and art.
And no, I'm not talking about going to some horrific British gallery and
discovering that some schmuck paid better than fifty thousand dollars so some
guy could create an exhibit entirely around a closet with faulty wiring.
Because, frankly, that would kill me.
Columnist's Advisory: The preceding statement was not a joke. This was an
actual exhibit called "The Lights Go On And Off," and someone did in fact pay an
awful lot of money to have it built.
This is about some really deranged art that deals in torture, death, and the
fact that we all have exactly thirteen seconds between the moment we die and our
soul is divorced from our body. What happens in those thirteen seconds before
our souls move on to their inevitable reward or judgment is the focus of this
I'll hand it to 13 Seconds--the first three minutes are among the spookiest ever
seen by man. But after that, it just trends off into the land of the
incomprehensible. Yet, while it pretty much sets up shop in the land of the
incomprehensible, it also manages to become horrific, spooky, genuinely
suspenseful and self-referential all at once. 13 Seconds truly is the scariest
movie I can't understand.
Worse yet, a good portion, maybe a third or more, of 13 Seconds is shot in this
impenetrable blackness. I really can't even see what's going on a good part of
13 Seconds wavers wildly between total incomprehensibility and sheer terror, and
no one ever knows just which side will hit next. It's like being locked in a
room with Alan Greenspan and the Tasmanian Devil on coke. Do you have any idea
what that's like? Sitting there, watching a movie, being occasionally terrified
and then spending long minutes thereafter confused out of your skull, wondering
if the DVD skipped or something because you really don't remember anything like
this happening before and absolutely nothing about it makes even the slightest
bit of sense. Then all of a sudden, someone gets really flagrantly possessed
and there's all this banging around and ghosties are screaming for your death
because it will stop the pain. Then our characters wander into a hall, and we
can't see a thing, and then there's another scream and what maybe could be blood
or what could be hot fudge comes leaking out from under a table---
Do you see what I mean? This is what watching 13 Seconds is like.
The ending is just as confusing as the rest of the movie was, a strange mishmash
of pseudo-religious ideologies, bizarre creatures, and bloody scenework for days.
If it weren't for the killing and mayhem, this would be avant-garde cinema the
likes of which would make the French themselves scratch their heads in sheer
confusion. Which means you, much like me, probably won't really get it either.
The special features don't exist. Really. There are some audio options and a
scene select menu, but barring that, nothing.
All in all, 13 Seconds is a strange mixture of the truly terrifying and the
truly confusing. Whether or not you'll be scared depends largely on your
tolerance for the confusing and your tolerance for the gut-wrenchingly horrific.
2LDK--this is a truly efficient Japanese real estate listing. What a typical
Tokyo apartment hunter would discover from seeing that in print is an apartment
with two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen.
Now this by itself is pretty interesting. An American real estate listing, of
the same type, might read, "2 bed, living room, dining room, and full kitchen."
Or even "2 BR." But the Japanese manage to package a full real estate listing
into a mere four characters.
The apartment may just be a four-character listing, but the two characters in
the 2LDK are what we're going to have to pay attention to.
So what we have here is the story of two starving artists--actresses,
specifically--sharing an apartment in downtown Tokyo.
Sounds pretty benign on its own, but these two have a lot of problems on their
hands. They discover they're competing not only for the same role in an
upcoming major feature film, but also for the same boyfriend.
Now, close quarters like downtown Tokyo would make anyone twitchy, but when
these two get together, it's like The Odd Couple mixed with Fatal Attraction and
blended on high with a shot of Silence of the Lambs. You put these two in a
cramped, congested environment like Tokyo, have them compete for the same job
and the same man, and you know you're going to have serious problems.
That's an understatement for these two.
Well, let's just say you're never going to see a catfight quite like this one--a
rolling, roiling, hour-long battle royale featuring catty remarks, cell phone
chicanery, power tools, electric chainsaws, and electrocution devices.
It's tough to tell the true intent of all this. Are we going for social commentary here? Is this a treatise on the volatile
nature of Tokyo citizenry, forced to live packed into close quarters and closer
lives? Could the Japanese just use a few more wide open spaces?
Or are we just watching two hot Japanese chicks duke it out with all manner of
2LDK is absolutely unbelievable stuff. Watching these two go back and forth,
cattily chipping away at each other by what they think to themselves (in italics
in the subtitles), makes for some amazing watching. These two battling
actresses show us utterly everything that couple possibly go wrong with
roommates, and a few things you never thought possible. Even more amazing, 2LDK
operates on a cast of two. That's it. Just these two dueling divas, inches
from ripping each other a couple new ones. And it even packs in disturbing stuff. Check out the scenes throughout
involving the tub full of blood. It's intensely creepy to follow these two down
It's impossible to classify 2LDK into one clean category. There are horror
elements, comedy elements, dramatic elements, romantic elements, even just a few
action movie elements that muddy these particular waters and bring forth a truly
Check out the poster at the one minute forty second mark. It has the director's
name on it on the bottom. Check out the duel at the forty five minute mark,
You haven't seen surrealist until you've seen Pillow Versus Chainsaw!
The ending is positively deranged in the nature of the sheer one-eighty that it
takes from the preceding hour, but it's very watchable.
The special features include a making of featurette and trailers for We also get
some special footage of the Duel Project press conference, giving us background
information about 2LDK's inception.
All in all, 2LDK is sometimes clever, sometimes cruel, and usually quality.
Look for an excellent performance from our two lead actresses, and strap
yourself in for a real wonder of a ride.