Written and Directed
by Vikram K. Kumar
Running Time: 2:10
13B was a good movie... if you started halfway through.
A typical Indian family moves into a new apartment somewhere in southern India. There's Manohar, his brother, his brother's wife, their two kids, his baby sister and his mother. The new apartment is lovely but strange things keep happening. The milk is always bad, the elevator doesn't work. And then one day, a new TV serial appears on the screen... and it mirrors their lives. Manohar is the only one to notice this and things start to get disturbing when the show forecasts what happens in the real world. Together with a police officer friend, Manohar must piece together what happened to the family on TV to find out how to end the madness.
Although this isn't a typical Bollywood film with random song and dance sequences (well not a lot anyway), it falls into the same trap as other Bollywood films - it's too long! If you take the first hour of the movie and cut it down to 15 minutes, then go with the second half, you have a perfectly acceptable movie. But that first half just drones on and on and on. I appreciate the information you get but we didn't need to see Manohar take the non-working elevator for the 12th time. So this happy family moves into a new apartment. It's the perfect place for all of them and it'll only take 20 years to pay it off. But within that first day, things start to go wrong. It happens, right? The women, who all love their serials (soap operas) all sit down to watch when the TV freezes on a new serial they've never seen before. They're suddenly hooked. Manohar watches it too and notices strange similarities between the family on TV and his family. But when bad things happen on TV, they start to happen in real life. And here's where the movie could have been edited. The first hour before intermission, they kept hammering the point home... something is wrong. Yeah, I got that the first time. I know there is a theory in India that the movies need to be long so people feel like they're giving away their hard earned money for something worthwhile. But Indians are more than happy to pay to see shorter American movies, so why not use an editor on Indian films? Maybe they'd appreciate not having to sit through these unnecessarily long extended openings. It became a joke to see how many times Manohar would try the elevators.
But then a strange thing happened... after the intermission, the movie actually got good. And even more impressively, it made sense! Well, sense for a horror film. Yes the idea that a murdered family would show up on TV and the new homeowners would need to figure out what happened so their souls could rest in peace is a strange one, but it's a movie. But when you start to piece things together, the movie does a really solid job of setting up questions and then answering them. Everything makes logical sense and the ending when everything is revealed is completely plausible. It's not as if they introduce a random character at the end to explain everything away. Characters are revealed slowly and with a purpose and everyone has a part to play. It's just that the first hour is so long and boring it takes you a long time to realize that the second half is pretty good. I did have a few complaints, mostly that the white (and sometimes yellow) subtitles were very hard to read which took away from the enjoyment. And visually the movie wasn't shot all that well. The actors were so-so and there were some unintentionally funny moments (like blood dripping in the shape of a B) that could have been cut. There were also two musical interludes that served zero purpose, other than giving the movie a soundtrack. The songs weren't even that good. But all in all, it was a pretty solid effort and if they could make this into a 90-100 minute movie, it would definitely be something worth seeing. I could even see a U.S. remake of this one.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, by the end, I found myself enjoying 13B. If you can make it past that really long opening hour, you might like it too.
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