Bestselling novelist Joseph Crone (Timothy Gibbs) is having a dickens of a time. Not all that long ago, a crazed fan burned down his house, killing his wife and young son in the process. Now Joe lives inside a creepy hotel room all by himself. Worse, he keeps having creepy nightmares about his wife and child’s death. Meanwhile, his brother Samuel (Michael Landes) calls with even more bad news — their father is dying. Joe flies back to the creepy family home in Spain, reunites with his estranged bro, meets the family’s religious housekeeper/nanny/busybody Anna, and runs afoul of creepy hooded figures that keep appearing to him around the family home. Meanwhile, his creepy dad refuses to die, and keeps creepily popping out of corners and shadows to freak poor Joe out, often muttering cryptic gibberish about saving little bro and such. Can this movie get any creepier? On the bright side, fellow grieving widower Sadie (Wendy Glenn) seems to have quite the hots for our man Joe, so there’s that.
“11-11-11” is, as you might have guessed from the slick ads, a high-concept horror movie. Heck, the film’s storyline concerns the number “11 11”, which keeps popping up all over the place, the film is called “11-11-11”, and the movie is being released exactly on 11-11-11. So yeah, this is one of those high-falutin’ high-concept movie ideas that Hollywood loves so much. It was created, written, and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, one of the directors of the “Saw” movies (along with the cult hit “Repo! The Genetic Opera”), and it’s certainly a film that knows where it’s headed. How it gets there, though, is open to debate. Sure, there’s plenty of creepiness during the set-up, but you can’t help but ask yourself: “So, is there more?” Well … not so much.
“11-11-11” is a moderately budgeted horror film that relies more on staged, practical frights rather than those of the CGI variety, something that Bousman’s fellow “Saw” veteran James Wan did to great effect in his small-budgeted “Insidious”. Not that Bousman eschews CGI completely. Magical, nefarious looking vines tend to pop up every now and then, though for the most part “11-11-11” is a decidedly low-key affair in terms of shock value. The film never really manages to elicit any real jumps out of me, but that’s probably because when a character turns around and the camera zooms in on him, I always expect something — or someone — to pop out of nowhere in frame when he turns back. True to form, this happens 9 out of 10 times in the movie, so yeah, gonna have to try a little harder than, kids.
For much of the film’s languid, plodding middle section, my mind kept wandering, and I found myself wondering where I’ve seen the actors. Turns out, leading man Timothy Gibbs has been in plenty of movies, including a long stint on the TV soap “Another World”, though I’ve never really followed his career. Bousman has populated the cast with mostly unknowns, though fans of the sci-fi TV show “Special Unit 2” from the early 2000s may recognize Landes, playing author Joe’s wheelchair-bound pastor little brother. Landes was also in the horror flick “Final Destination 2”, FYI. “11-11-11” has a surprisingly limited cast, given the movie’s near-apocalyptic themes. The film was shot entirely in Spain, so that explains the mostly foreign cast, which is pretty much everyone in the film except for Gibbs and Landes, playing the brothers Crone.
If Bousman intended “11-11-11” to be the start of a franchise, it’s hard to see how that’s going to happen, but if the film does well, I wouldn’t underestimate Hollywood’s ability to squeeze a sequel or two out of it anyway. The film features one of those twist endings that you probably won’t see coming, mostly because the script by Bousman cheats and doesn’t provide nearly enough clues that would allow the audience to play along. Once the twist is revealed, we’re given flashbacks that supposedly tells us that the plan was afoot the entire time, though that’s a bit of a stretch, to say the least. Mind you, not that the twist is so mind-blowing you’ll be wondering how you missed it the first time around. The word “meh” comes to mind.
“11-11-11” is a hard one to recommend. On the one hand, it’s got a nifty premise, and you have to respect writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman’s commitment to slowly build up the film’s premise over time. On the other hand, the set-up takes way too long, and there isn’t enough scares in-between the beginning and the end to justify sitting around through 80 or so minutes of very uninteresting exposition. A crazy guy with a gun just ain’t what it used to be anymore. Sure, you pretty much know that Bousman knows where he’s going, and that eventually he’ll get there, but I can’t say as if I didn’t glance at my watch once or twice to see what the hold up was. The funny thing is, “11-11-11” might have worked as an under promoted direct-to-DVD horror movie (it even has that low-fi, moderatedly budgeted look of a Syfy Channel Original Movie), but as a Hollywood studio release with a decent advertising budget, it falls way short.
Darren Lynn Bousman (director) / Darren Lynn Bousman (screenplay)
CAST: Timothy Gibbs … Joseph Crone
Michael Landes … Samuel
Denis Rafter … Richard Crone
Wendy Glenn … Sadie
Lluís Soler … Vavier
Brendan Price … Grant