Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nicole Brydon Bloom, Giles Matthey, Naomi Grossman, Alan Blumenfeld, Taylor Nichols, Andrea Gabriel, Susan Davis, Celeste Sully, Curtis Webster, Hailey Giles, Earnestine Phillips, Clayton Hoff
Written by: David Marmor
Directed by: David Marmor
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 90
Date: 04/24/2020

1BR (2020)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Cult Film

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A few weeks ago a horror movie about an evil cult, The Other Lamb was released to home viewers; it was a beautifully-shot, but bland story about a man amassing power by keeping women powerless. Luckily, the new "1BR" is also about the cult mentality, but it's far more alive, vicious, and diabolical. It's also far more relevant, tying more directly into the cult-like behavior in today's politics. Like another recent movie, Vivarium (also about characters trapped at home), it's a worthy feature-length Twilight Zone-like piece. Nicole Brydon Bloom makes a promising feature film acting debut as Sarah, a young woman who dreams of being a fashion designer. She moves to Los Angeles, seeking a fresh start after a fight with her father. She finds a temp job and lands a sweet apartment in a friendly-looking complex. Unfortunately, she has lied about her cat, Giles, and must try to keep him hidden. But a cute neighbor, Brian (Giles Matthey) flirts with her a little, so maybe things are looking up?

At night, Sarah can't sleep because of rattling pipes, and before long she has received threatening notes about her cat, and then a mysterious visitor in the night. There's a queasy, quasi-torture sequence that may have viewers crawling under the blankets, but stick with it. It really goes somewhere with this. Written and directed by David Marmor — also making his feature debut — 1BR is an assured genre effort, with its surprises doled out to rhythmic perfection, and a superior use of the apartment complex's unique space. Marmor keeps up a delicate balance, avoiding a typical "torture" movie and offering something far more thoughtful and human. Whenever things get too tense, he provides a moment of rest, as when Sarah is returned to her beloved sewing machine. It's almost enough to cause tears of relief.

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