The haunted house is a tried and tested trope that is used as a vehicle within the horror/thriller genre. Whether it is the creepiness of the house itself or the occupants, we all know as a viewer that the intrigue of these homes are just too much for our protagonists to avoid, and so ensues the journey we embark on. In Jax Medel's Day 13, the aforementioned house is the one right across the street from our leading man.
The film's opening scene automatically puts us in the mindset that this film is going to be a suspenseful as we are introduced to Colton (Alex MacNicoll) walking into a pitch-black house and being startled by a noise – which ends up being his mum's latest date. From here the scene is set that Colton's mum is going to be gone for 16 days and our leading man will have to look after his younger sister, but also begins his obsession with the house across the road, when he steps out to have a puff on his vape and he discovers a light flickering at the house which has stood unoccupied for years.
When we first meet Colton he comes across as a bratty teenager and has a bit of complex about him, which immediately doesn't make him endearing as a leading character and we don't resonate with him. This lack of empathy for the main man is added too when he basically becomes a bit of a stalker and installs hi-tech home security cameras to essentially spy on the house to figure out what is going on. In his curiosity, he even ventures onto the grounds of the house, where he meets Heather (who only seems to own one set of clothes), and his focus switches to her. The more Colton keeps tabs on the house the more he discovers that her adopted father is performing, what he believes are Satanic rituals.
Throughout the film every time that our protagonist gets himself in a position where he is either uncovering more information or getting caught out, the use of suspenseful is one of the key tools in Medel's arsenal which really helps to build the tense stakes in the film. As Colton gets deeper and deeper involved he feels the need to rescue Heather, but no one believes him in his reports, not his best friend, not the police. In the end the teenager takes matters into his own hand to bust into the dark house and get his crush out.
However, just when you think everything is going to end happily ever after the true evil is revealed and everything Colton has learned is turned on its head. This swerve at the end should make Day 13 an interesting addition to the thriller genre, but instead, its execution is almost laughable and undoes any good work which has gone before.
Also, the concept of why Day 13 is significant is almost shoehorned in as an afterthought. Right from the off Day 13 doesn't endear itself to viewers with its antagonist and it is this disassociation which, as a viewer, doesn't make you want to root for him and leaves you feeling very nonplussed by what the outcome will be and therefore leaves this film washing across the surface, rather than staying long in the memory.
Dir: Jax Medel
Scr: Dan Gannon & Walter Goldwalter
Cast: Alex MacNicoll, Genevieve Hannelius, Martin Kove, Meyrick Murphy
Prd: Richard C. Brooks
Music: Evan Goldman
Run time: 93 mins
Day 13 will be available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox, Playstation, Vudu, Fandango & Vimeo from 4th August