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1BR (2019)

Directed by David Marmor
Written by David Marmor
Starring Nicole Brydon Bloom, Giles Matthey, Taylor Nichols, Alan Blumenfeld, Naomi Grossman, Clayton Hoff, Celeste Sully, Earnestine Phillips, Susan Davis, Andrea Gabriel, Curtis Webster, Jerry Ying, Hailey Giles

One of the things I love about horror is being surprised. Whenever I can, I try to avoid reading or seeing too much about whatever movie go into for a review. Yes, this often leaves me to watch some absolute stikeroos. But sometimes the opposite happens. While I assumed 1BR was going to be one of those neighbors from hell movies where an unsuspecting youngster moves in to find herself the object of some psychopath’s eye, it turns out that is far from what 1BR really is. Turns out, 1BR is a smart and twisted little movie that I feel is best left unspoiled.

But, this is a review, so I have to go into some details. I’ll let you know when I unleash the spoilers.

Nicole Brydon Bloom plays Sarah, your typical nice Midwest girl with dreams of being a costume designer in Hollywood. So she moves there against the wishes of her father and finds an apartment complex that looks too good to be true. As she moves in, she is greeted with smiles from all of her neighbors and immediately invited to all kinds of events that are going on in the building. Soon she finds out this seemingly perfect community is anything but.

1BR does a great job of flipping and reflipping expectations. It sets up people one thinks might be a threat, only to suggest otherwise, and then all of a sudden the real threat occurs. This is a film that cements the suspicions of those who have difficulty trusting anyone and buy into all of the conspiracy theories that we are told are just bunk. Sarah is ripe for the picking for any and all threats as she literally hops off the bus a newb in the land of sin. When she is given an opportunity to find friends and a community, she leaps for it. And that’s exactly what predators expect. This is a film that harnesses that type of paranoia that is so prevalent in some of the best horror films. Like ROSEMARY’S BABY, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE INVITATION, and GET OUT, 1BR is going to make you wonder what that stranger on the street you just said hi to is really hiding behind that smile. 1BR takes that need to fit in, to find a home, and gather with others like you and perverts it perfectly into a horror film, especially when you add in how open we all are to influences we immerse ourselves in; such as media, religion, or our immediate support group.

We follow the entire twisted story through Sarah’s perspective and it’s fantastic to see her soft wide-eyed innocence morph and shift into something more savvy, frightening, and tough. Bloom is believable every step of the way as the plot of the film treats her mind like a clown’s balloon. While 1BR has some decent performances, this is Bloom’s film and she carries it well.

I’m pretty sure the trailer below is going to give away some of the twists and turns that occur in 1BR, so I suggest you skip checking it out. Instead, just go into 1BR as blind as Sarah was walking into the apartment complex at the beginning. I think you’ll enjoy it a lot better expecting a horror movie, but not what kind. It’s not easy to make a true, palpable sense of paranoia in a film, but 1BR manages to do it with a great lead performance and some clever twists along the way.