11-11-11 Review

Written and Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

After becoming the premiere director of the Saw films, Darren Lynn Bousman has made some interesting choices, directing the slowly building cult-hit Repo! The Genetic Opera and a remake of the Charles Kaufman classic Mother’s Day.  Now, he tackles a once-in-a-lifetime date in his latest film, 11-11-11, releasing today.  Now, how a date can be the sole basis for a horror film’s plot is beyond me, but that’s the concept Bousman rolled with.

Veteran actor Timothy Gibbs plays the lead character Joseph Crone, a Stephen King-esque horror author who has seemingly lost his steam as a writer, and is having trouble with depression as the death of his wife and son continue to haunt him.  When his brother Samuel (Michael Landes) calls to tell him their father is dying, Joseph does what no one expects and up and leaves for Spain, where his brother and father  live.  The rift between the family is immediately noticeable upon his arrival when Joseph and Samuel begin debating on the importance of faith.  Samuel is a priest, following in the footsteps of their father.  Joseph is the black sheep  of the three, running off to make himself famous from material that his brother and father would not approve of.

Joseph comes home to face his demons, and attempts to make peace with his relationship with his father before he dies.  Instead of a somber homecoming, Joseph is plagued by odd visions and continually haunted by the death of his wife and son.  His lack of faith is a point of contention between himself and his brother, but when he attempts to face his father, he is once again overcome with strange visions that are passed through his father’s comatose body.

The good news is these visions have an explanation, the unfortunate part is the visions add up to a plot that is similar to a lot of other religious horror films.  There is nothing very new explored here, but the twist is that all the clues come to Joseph in the form of 11-11-11 appearances.  When he finally figures out what the messages add up to, the film really has nothing to do with the date, but a whole other plot entirely, which makes it seem like Bousman just saw the 11-11-11 date and decided to release a film he already had plotted on that date.  The two don’t have a strong correlation.

As for the film itself, it’s extremely well shot, with very interesting and diverse cinematography.  Timothy Gibbs is an interesting lead man, looking like a mix between Jon Hamm and George Clooney, he doesn’t have half the acting talent of either star, but he manages to brood his way through the part sufficiently.  The real standout is Michael Landes as Samuel, a conflicted character that is given a lot more to do than Joseph.

When it finally comes down to it, the plot is a mess based around a relatively silly concept, with 11-11-11 factored in as a cheap draw because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime date.  As a horror film, it would have done better being released early last month, but considering the date, it’s not a bad horror film.  It’s just not entirely original and the plot isn’t quite as tight as it should have been for this type of story.  It seems Bousman is good at making things look pretty, and pulling decent performances from actors, but his biggest problem seems to be telling a well-drawn story in a new and exciting way.  He focuses too much on style and visuals, with both factors contributing little to the overall experience of the film.  Most viewers will probably be disappointed with the film as a whole, but horror fans will find a decent little religious horror film that looks good and is entertaining for the most part.

7.8/10

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