Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Timothy Gibbs, Michael Landes, Wendy Glenn, Benjamin Cook, Lolo Herrero, Salomé Jiménez, Brendan Price, Denis Rafter, Ángela Rosal, Lluís Soler, J. LaRose
(out of 4)
Last year's Halloween Horror Nights was better.
Using a numerology gimmick in the style of The Number 23, Darren Lynn Bousman’s supernatural thriller 11-11-11 comes across as a sloppy, rushed mishmash of various other horror movies before presenting a M. Night Shyamalan-inspired ending that, truth be told, I kinda liked. But to get there, we have to get through silly dialogue, bizarre editing choices, and so-called demons straight out of the cheesiest haunted house ride this side of Halloween Horror Nights. I appreciate that Bousman wanted to move away from his torture porn trilogy of Saw 2/3/4, but he isn’t ready to deliver this kind of slow-burning supernatural thriller, which seems chaotic even though not much happens in the first two-thirds of the running time, the film barely crawling its way out of the quicksand of preposterous plot developments, excessive exposition, washed-out colors, and scenes derivative of much better films. Still, this isn’t anywhere as disagreeable as reviews suggest; there’s something interesting going on here, even though we’re all aware that the only reason this movie exists in the first place is to take advantage of the then-approaching date of November 11, 2011.
11-11-11 concerns a highly successful fiction novelist named Joseph Crone (a stiff Timothy Gibbs) who lost his wife and son in a fire started by one of his crazed fans. Having lost his faith in God and religion, he is summoned to Barcelona by his priest-brother Samuel (Michael Landes) to see his dying father, who speaks ominously (“They’re coming for you!”). It doesn’t help that Joseph starts seeing demons everywhere, like Jacob’s Ladder but without the frightening parts. There’s also the numerous appearances of the number 11, or 11-11. Samuel’s security system seems to capture strange ghostly images that show up every night around 11:11pm (Isn’t that really 23:11? Never mind). Soon, Joseph becomes convinced that he has been chosen to protect Samuel from harm, believing that his brother may be some kind of savior of humanity.
The movie makes references to the 11:11 phenomenon and various groups dedicated to the idea that the number 11 has major significance and portends an otherworldly spiritual connection. Bousman also makes references to The Shining (there’s a hedge-maze and an ending set in a spooky Spanish mansion which evokes Wendy’s run through the Overlook – even the music seems stolen), The Seventh Sign, The Omen, Lost Souls, Rosemary’s Baby – you name it. There’s not too much original here, in other words, but I did like how Bousman seems to be commenting on how people can misinterpret signs. Of course, Joseph can’t be blamed for misinterpreting his signs – without trying to ruin the ending, I’ll humbly ask why the angels in the film look and act the way they do, without offering any clear messages that the receiver might interpret properly. When the credits roll, you might ask why they even bothered, since they seem to have done more harm than good. But I digress.
7 + 1 + 3 = 11 !! I get it! Brilliant !!
Dialogue is overly expository and redundant. Joseph questions his faith out loud and uses variations of “maybe I’m just crazy” too many times for comfort. There’s also something very funny about how the characters sound when they speak “11-11-11” over and over again. Most of the film seems rushed, especially in the way scenes are edited together, in what I can only describe as some sort of cut-up method. For example, the camera is on a person and suddenly there is an abrupt change to that person in a different position, maybe in the next room (as if frames of the film were cut out). This confusing editing style ruins the slow-buildup that the movie intends to perform leading to the final act. I also got a feeling that important things were left out (especially concerning Wendy Glenn’s character Sadie, who doesn’t get enough screen time). A scene with a character collecting photos and singling out one in particular leads you to believe that there’s something important about that photo, but we are never shown it. Finally, the monsters – not shown in clear detail – range from ok-looking to laugh-inducing.
It seems like I’m trashing 11-11-11, but there are still aspects of it I enjoyed, probably because I liked the supernatural joke played on our main character at the end, who finds himself “chosen” in the way Samantha from The House of the Devil found herself chosen. The scenes in Barcelona, Spain help with the atmosphere a bit, and I liked Michael Landes’ performance. There’s also a nice sequence where Joseph lights up a room with his laptop, using the desktop wallpaper of his deceased wife and son. That Bousman has talent is clear (his three entries in the Saw series are the high point of that franchise). It’s just too bad that overall, the movie feels like a cynical cash grab to capitalize on a date. If you listen to Bousman’s commentary on the DVD, about how he had trouble getting finishing funds as well as having an unfinished cut leaking to the internet, you get an idea about how messy the whole process must have been. Ironically, he gets the idea that he should have thrown in more jump scares – I think he should have slowed down further, letting the camera stay still longer. Instead of 11-11-11, which, lets face it, was already out of date on 11/12, I would suggest The Shrine – a similar (better) film about how our prejudices cause us to misinterpret events.
By the way, do not confuse this movie with the Asylum ripoff 11/11/11. (I hear you’ll regret it if you do, big time).
– Bill Gordon
Buy 11-11-11 on DVD
A religion centered around trees? Is he Rastafarian?