The chilling, exceptionally well acted “1BR” just landed on Netflix, and horror fans can’t get enough; discover why it’s the perfect pick for movie night.
1BR is a recent release from director David Marmor that has received a lot of publicity lately, and with good reason; this is a psychological horror film that leaves you breathless, struggling to figure out what happens next before the film throws you for another loop.
1BR follows Sarah (Nichole Brydon Bloom), a down-on-her-luck young professional sleeping in a seedy motel, working a miserable desk job, completely estranged from her family. She is furious at her father Gus (Alan Blumenfeld) for the way he treated her mother prior to her death and refuses to attempt any reconciliation. The need to foster her own independence leads Sarah to stumble upon an open house for a one-bedroom rental in a middle-class apartment complex.
It is the definition of a picturesque community, one filled with a wide range of all types of people, basking in the courtyard as the sun shines down on their outdoor picnics.
And, like the audience, Sarah believes her luck has taken a turn for the better when she gets approved for the apartment, catches the eye of a cute neighbor named Brian (Giles Matthey), and makes a new friend at work, Lisa (Celeste Sully), who teaches her how to be more assertive towards their demanding boss.
Things seem to be going well, besides the constant, intrusive sound of the pipes that Sarah can hear through the wall as she’s trying to sleep.
And then things suddenly, staggeringly, go horrifically wrong as Sarah wakes up to a grisly surprise cooking in her oven — her punishment for challenging the ‘no pets’ policy of the complex.
The first act of 1BR moves slowly, peppering in certain unusual elements about the complex and the people that inhabit the various apartments.
One example is Sarah’s unnerving, eye-patch wearing neighbor Lester (Clayton Hoff). He flees whenever she tries to pry any answers out of him. And during a community BBQ, he tries to gift her with a weird book titled The Power of Community, which she rejects. Yet there’s no real sense that Sarah’s in any sort of danger — until she’s literally standing in it, and we’re standing in it with her, wondering what the hell happened.
Her neighbors seem like regular people, and her landlord, the amicable Jerry (Taylor Nichols), are all very welcoming, delightful, and personable towards loner Sarah. Until they’re not.
In a way, that perhaps sets the tone for the entirety of the film.
Things settle in for a long period of time before, suddenly, they are shaken up, destroyed, or irrevocably changed in a sudden manner that leaves the audience reeling.
Scenes of stagnancy quickly morph into sudden, often bloody, action.
It’s not necessarily a bad or unwelcome change — more jarring than anything. And it certainly draws parallels to Sarah’s unpleasant experiences in the movie. One minute, the complex and its residents are her torturers that she’s scrambling to escape from. The next, they are her family, bombarding her with love, attention, gifts, and whatever else she could possibly ask for. This leaves both Sarah, and us as viewers, on uncertain ground.
Is this a paradise, or a prison?
This idea — maintaining control of the victim by positioning the group as both a force of terror and love — is a tactic used by cults to keep their stranglehold on a person. Severely impacting individuals’ ability to think critically about the group, cults are effective at keeping their members in a constant state of freeze; not quite ready to fight, nor all that eager to take flight.
And Nichole Bloom plays this state absolutely brilliantly.
Wide-eyed, pale-faced Sarah looks like she is constantly on the verge of either ripping through the complex in a blaze of bloody glory, shredding bodies left and right like paper, or running top speed out of there, far away from San Francisco and its less than savory housing communities.
Sarah plays both terror and fury on her features better than any horror actress that I’ve seen in recent times, and she delivers a spooky performance that’s nothing short of unforgettable.
The final act, and specifically the final scene where Sarah makes a horrific discovery about her neighborhood, is about as memorable and spooky as it is campy and mildly silly — just the right amount of horror and comedy mixed together as we conclude her story.
Overall, I couldn’t recommend this movie enough. With a stellar cast and scenes that literally made me gasp out loud, this is a film that wholeheartedly deserves all of the attention its’ getting. It has landed a special spot as one of my few favorite recent horror releases.