Lead actor: Penelope Mitchell, Kyle Gass.
Director: Heylar Garcia.
Sometimes you accidentally stumble upon a movie you didn’t know existed, and sometimes that movie is exactly what you didn’t want to see.
IN APARTMENT 212, Jennifer Conrad (Penelope Mitchell, Hemlock Grove) left her abusive husband and moved into a dingy apartment with everything that could fit in a trailer in the back of her Ford Taurus. It’s not the best life, but it’s hers and she appreciates it.
His neighbors are a bit seedy, but the downstairs neighbor, Terry (Kyle Gass of Tenacious D), seems nice enough and even gives him a welcome gift in the form of a turtle named Tina.
But not everything is peace, joy and happiness in their new apartment: Her roommate Stella is crying next to her. Like all night. And this sound comes through the vent of apartment 212, where our protagonist lives, and it REALLY starts to stress her out. She can barely sleep, and she has a big job interview in a few weeks.
Eventually whatever is haunting Stella becomes too strong and the woman blasts her brains out with a shotgun she stole from another complicated resident.
Among the leaflets in Stella’s apartment, Jennifer finds a small metal box that she likes and takes it back to her apartment. It’s a barely noticeable action, and I didn’t even realize it was happening until it became important.
Now that Jennifer thinks her sleep problems are over with the disappearance of the screamer next door, she couldn’t be more wrong. When Stella died, the council hired a fumigator to search the apartment, which was full of bugs. And now Jennifer wakes up every morning with new bites, and she naturally assumes that Stella’s bedbugs have gotten into her apartment.
Thanks to a very well done montage of the scene, we see her slowly go crazy and turn into a nervous breakdown of open wounds and agitated movements. Mitchell shines in this part. He gives his character all the quirks of a heavy meth addict, leading the other characters to believe that this is the cause of their problems.
Jennifer insists, however, that she is not drugged, but eaten alive by bedbugs, even when another exterminator arrives and assures her that her 16-point search has not yielded as many results as the suspected cow chips.
When she finally goes to the doctor, the prognosis becomes even more alarming. Did your neighbor have parasites, the doctor asks. Because they don’t look like bedbug bites, the wobbly edges indicate that something is trying to eat you.
I have to admit that when I first saw the trailer for APARTMENT 212, it scared me. It was awful, the special effects looked silly and cheap, and I would have bet on something closer to The Asylum’s sci-fi original rather than the intense descent into paranoia I had.
And it might be a bit of an exaggeration, I’m not saying APARTMENT 212 (or GNAW as it’s also called) is a GREAT movie, it has its share of flaws. But there are real moments of talent here, both in interpretation and direction (the film was written and directed by Heylar Garcia, AN AMERICAN EARTH).
Garcia used split screens to show the passage of time, and Jennifer’s fragmented mind was great, as was Mitchell’s struggle to maintain her sanity as she slowly goes mad from lack of sleep. The makeup team also gets special praise for these injuries. God, they were horrible.
But I have to challenge Mitchell on other aspects of his performance. I don’t know what it was, but in the scenes where she’s sitting across from someone else, she seems stiff and contrived, and maybe it’s because of the dialogue, but I had a hard time believing it. In fact, I briefly began to believe my own preconception that APARTMENT 212 would be a terrible movie, based on how little happens in the beginning and that Mitchell doesn’t play well with anyone.
Only in the solo scenes, when it comes to her and her madness, does her talent shine. But it wasn’t just her, Gass also went back and forth, charming and funny in some scenes, terrible and neglectful in others, so maybe it fell on Garcia’s feet.
Regardless, APARTMENT 212 has had some terrifying moments, combined with some truly exceptional ones.
I loved the story and the way it waited almost until the last second to reveal itself, but there were some pretty predictable moments when we got to the climax that I wish I hadn’t seen so predictable.
But all in all, aside from the poor reading of the rules, I really enjoyed the experience and I wish I hadn’t been so tired when I saw the movie so I could have enjoyed it more. Maybe one day, when I have some time, I’ll try again and see if it makes sense.
APARTMENT 212 is currently streaming for free on SLING and Amazon Prime Video.
1BR ~ 388 Arletta Avenue ~ Apartment 1303 ~ Hell House LLC
C. Dennis Moore is the author of over 60 short stories and novels published in the genre of speculative fiction. More recent versions can be found in the anthologies Dark Highlands 2, What Fears Arise, Dead Bait 3 and Dark Highways. His novels include Revelations, Angel Hill, The Man in the Window, The Third Floor, Flip.
year one kyle gass, kyle gass – imdb