**Contains Some Spoilers**
Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom) seeks a fresh start in LA to distance herself from her overbearing father (Alan Blumenfeld). It seems that she strikes lucky when she obtains the keys for her idyllic new apartment, 1BR but to her horror, her new neighbours prove not to be as friendly as they first appear, in this chilling, psychological debut feature from David Marmor.
1BR begins as a somewhat harmless story of a young woman taking her life in a new direction, then just prior to the 30-minute mark, events take an exceptionally dark trajectory. The film enters deeply uneasy territory as Sarah becomes the victim of some unconventional and disturbing acts of violence and psychological terror at the hands of her newfound community. 1BR is an unexpected, horrifying chiller that effortlessly gets under the skin in a heart-racing fight for survival.
For a debut feature, Marmor displays a lot of promise in his style of storytelling, evoking an uncomfortable sense of fear into the viewer. He doesn’t give too many hints away of where the plot will head, building up to the horror organically. That said, there’s an unnerving tone from the beginning, especially when Sarah unmindfully ignores the “no pet rule” and smuggles in her beautiful cat, Giles, to her new abode with the intention to keep him a secret from the rest of the building’s inhabitants.
This, of course, results in a nasty turn of events where it’s advisable that cat/animal lovers may want to look away during this scene. While the “kill the pet” trope is cruel and tiresome within the genre, this one is both heart-breaking and effective as the film establishes Sarah’s solitude well and her attachment to Giles early on, making it a prime focus, rather than the usual tactic used in horror films in a cheap attempt to increase the body count and to signify the extent of the threat.
Nicole Brydon Bloom delivers an exceptional central performance, keeping the audience engaged throughout her ordeal. She is caring and empathetic, making her victimisation even more harrowing to watch. It’s unclear where her character will end up by the end and she takes us on that journey, with a strong, well developed character arc. Giles Matthey and Taylor Nicholas play complex and sinister roles as the community’s “leaders” Brian and Jerry, respectively. They have an intimidating presence surrounding them, elevating the film’s disturbing nature, as they are not fantastical monsters but real people committing unspeakable acts, exerting their influence over the community. This is made more disconcerting by the vagueness of their motives for most of the film.
Marmor doesn’t spend too much time focusing on the gore, however, be prepared for some disturbing moments, as the film is unapologetic in its depictions of grizzly violence and injury detail. With these moments being so scarce, they are more impactful when they do happen as the suspense is built up authentically.
1BR is an intense 90 minutes of character driven ordeal horror, not for the faint hearted due to its portrayal of “cult” mentality which is far scarier than any fictional horror movie monster. 1BR is guaranteed to leave its audience reeling as it’s both thought provoking and haunting, remaining long lasting in the mind even after the credits have rolled. While it may not garner repeat viewings, 1BR effectively succeeds in staying with the viewer with its consistently unsettling tone. Marmor has proven he has great potential for genre movie filmmaking, and it will be interesting to see which direction his career heads in next.
1BR is available digitally across many platforms including, Amazon, iTunes, Sky Store, Google Play and Virgin in the UK and Ireland as of the 8th June.