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squirmshine

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13 Seconds (2003) (V)
14 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
DVDemonic Fun, 10 December 2003
8/10

What I thought would be another lapse into sub-par American grade-Z independent horror quickly became one of the biggest surprises of a recent indie film fest. Typically, I look forward to festival screenings to catch the latest and most cutting edge dramas, but rarely ever horror, for those I can wait for home video. However, I was intrigued by the press materials for this film. The poster, the quotes, and most importantly for me, the awards "13 Seconds" has received caught my attention. Although, at first, I must admit I was somewhat skeptical. The movie unfolds at a decent enough pace that makes sparing use of dialogue, but the acting is stilted (more on that later). Not that this necessarily detracts from the overall story, because here is where the real strength of the film is. At what first appears to be a mindless action orientated narrative that piles one set piece upon set piece (you have to love and admire the cell phone and ghoul under the sheet scenes), quietly and very subtlety transforms into something much deeper. Not that the movie grinds any gears. In fact, it is in this movement from violent gore and death to surreal psychological scares that "13 Seconds" reveals its true motive that has always been staring the audience right in the face along. Here is where the twist ending manifests, and what a surprise it is. The best mysteries work when the ending is a logical conclusion that the audience does not grasp onto immediately. And

this movie does just that while staying true to its narrative form, structure, and characters. And now more about that. Clearly, the under acting method is employed as an integral part of the story telling process-to varying degrees of success. Because once the conclusion is reached, every method evoked makes perfect sense, just getting there was somewhat questionable since every motive is not crystal clear. Still, solid scares and jolts are provided and the set pieces are original and always entertaining. Originally when I walked into this screening, I really wanted to tear this movie apart. But I must admit that I became caught up in the story and I played right into the movie's gimmicks (special praise to the artist that created the disturbing paintings). But again, what really makes "13 Seconds" is the final act where all the pieces fit perfectly together into a powerful and satisfying finale.