Horror films like 1BR are the perfect cure for the summer blues. I mean, who wants to be outside in the blistering heat when they could be sitting in air conditioning, watching a chill-inducing horror film, am I right?
Now, even though I greatly enjoy the traditional go-tos (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Scream, etc.), I have a deep, abiding passion for newer, unique “small” films; you know, the ones that don’t get a big theatrical run, and end up streaming shortly after their film festival debuts.
1BR is such a film, created by a first-time writer/director (David Marmor) and two first-time producers (Alok Mishra and Shane Vorster). The lead character Sarah is played by Nicole Brydon Bloom, in her feature film debut.
You might think there would be some challenges inherent in making a film with so many newbies, and you would be correct in thinking so. Alok Mishra wrote a piece for MovieMaker Magazine that outlined the many problems and setbacks1BR faced on its road to success. In addition to their original lead actress backing out, there was a fire and a vehicle theft, but Mishra can tell that story much better than I, so you can read it here.
1BR is one of those horror films that kind of sneaks up on you.
I went into it not knowing much about it at all, and I expected it to be a stalker flick. A young woman named Sarah moves into a small apartment in a close knit complex, where the residents seem to be super-friendly and regularly get together for parties. Sure, there are several badly patched spots on the wall in the new place, but a reasonably priced apartment is hard to find these days!
Right away, Sarah is hearing odd sounds at night, and she is suspicious of an eye-patch wearing man who lives in the complex. On the other hand, cute, helpful Brian catches her attention, and she instantly trusts him. The other residents are interesting, quirky and diverse characters, each of them making it a point to smile and greet Sarah every time they cross her path.
But, a nasty note is placed under Sarah’s front door about the cat she has sneaked into her new digs, and that’s strange, right? Oh, and tiny spoiler alert: Don’t get too attached to the cat, you know how things go in horror films.
Sarah invites a sassy new co-worker over one evening, and confides in her that she is getting weird vibes, and is considering moving out. That’s when everything we think we know gets upended, and 1BR becomes Sarah’s tense, horrifying struggle to survive, both mentally and physically. Hold onto your hats, friends, it gets pretty brutal and bloody.
The story is riveting all on its own, but the acting performances elevate 1BR beyond the realm of just another indie horror flick. In particular, Nicole Brydon Bloom is fantastic. As producer Mishra said, “she can seriously cry eight different ways.” She makes you really care for Sarah, and there were times I felt like I was standing right next to her, feeling what she was feeling and rooting her on.
Character actor Susan Davis as Miss Stanhope gives a vulnerable and sympathetic performance, Giles Matthey’s Brian is laid-back and realistically friendly (until he’s not), and Taylor Nichols is great as creepy apartment manager Jerry.
I also have to give mad props to actor Clayton Hoff, who plays the silent one-eyed Lester, possibly the most mysterious character at the beginning of the film. Honestly, there is not a weak performance in the film.
Now that you know how highly I thought of this film, please give it a watch. 1BR can be streamed on a number of platforms, including Shudder, Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Have you watched 1BR? If so, give us your mini-review in the comments section.