Cinema Review: 11-11-11 Ross Leslie November 10, 2011 Movie Reviews 1391 “On the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year, a gateway will open, and with it comes beings unlike mortal eyes have seen. And on this day, innocent blood will spill, and from this sacrifice, the serpent will rise.” That’s right; a gateway at your local multiplex will soon open; exposing you to its grand and expansive doors; promising mystery, scares and mythological thrills. When this moment of divine cinematic clarity and transcendence occurs, you need only one thing at your disposal: the discipline to hand over your hard earned cash to see something other than Darren Lynn Bousman’s supposed mystery chiller, 11-11-11. The director of Saw II, III and VI, as well as the semi-competent remake of Mother’s Day, returns to the chair for this gothic-supernatural fright fest that borrows an intriguing cultural phenomenon and attempts to unashamedly ride it bare-back all the way to the bank. The story follows bestselling thriller author Joseph Crone (Timothy Gibbs), widowed by the tragic loss of his wife and son in an arson attack on his home, who is haunted by the enigmatic recurrence of the numbers 11.11 intruding upon his life. In an attempt to confront the numbers’ significance after a near fatal car accident (guess what time it occurred?), Joseph flies to his family home in Barcelona to see his terminally ill, former priest father and his estranged brother Samuel (Michael Landes), who is continuing to preach his father’s Christian gospel to such a fanatical extent that he can’t offer any support to Joseph’s supernatural theories pertaining to those infamous numbers. Joseph is very much of a secular disposition; an atheist; a sceptic who abandoned any faith he may of had because the death of his family disillusioned his capacity to believe in the guiding power of any so called god – contesting the obvious religious overtones that his name denotes. He was forced to move away from his family a long time ago and subsequently resents his father for imposing these uncompromising religious ideologies upon him and prioritising them over him. It is not faith that he resents so much, but rather the disdain he feels towards how it has dictated his family’s dynamic after the passing of his mother (again, guess when that happened?). The 11.11 phenomenon derives from those individuals who strive to find meanings in random numerical patterns and attribute their findings to coincidences concerning the divine intervention of angels; apparently sent from a world beyond death and on the fringes of humanity’s rational understanding to communicate with the person receiving their ‘signs.’ However, in 11-11-11, these apparently angelic entities aren’t here to ask for a cup of tea and a biscuit, but rather to warn of an imminent evil that is set to be unleashed on this eponymous date. Sounds vaguely promising so far, doesn’t it? But don’t let the allure of the myth pull the wool over your eyes! From a technical perspective, 11-11-11 offers little more than a cheap spectacle of clichés and old school ‘made you jump’ tactics, which shouldn’t be too surprising given the director’s far from illustrious back catalogue of work. For a narrative draped in so much contemporary mythology, provocative superstition, and set against the gothic splendour of Barcelona’s grand architecture and labyrinthine alcoves, Bousman has failed in his attempts to weave any genuine suspense or substance into the film. The editing is at times hesitant and sloppy; the inappropriately titled ‘special’ effects, specifically the lighting near the films conclusion, are laughable and embarrassing like something that would make you yawn on any fairground ghost train ride. However, worst of all, is the exhausted repetition of protracted close-ups that follow Joseph as he’s immersed in thought before his father’s beardy pale face abruptly appears in the frame, uttering gems of dialogue such as, “They are here”, in such a rigid and raspy tone that you’ll never be able to watch Poltergeist with the same admiration ever again. The ominous foreboding and celestial-type hokum in the film has been indulged numerous times before; notably 2002’s The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. This eerie little offering shares many thematic similarities with the phenomena explored in 11-11-11 but, despite its flaws, manages to retain a certain degree of subtlety and ambiguity surrounding its fantastical content. In contrast, Bousman’s film is tarnished by pseudo-religious iconography and its reliance on a gimmick that overthrows the potential of the films moral/spiritual debate. He’s even made out that all the characters are incapable of reading a 24hr clock; either because they are too intellectually afflicted to do so or rather just so another spooky 11.11 event can be force fed to the audience twice in one fictitious day! I really wanted to like this film because of its premise, and a few times during the screening I actually did, because of the dialectic it raises between faith and rational scepticism. There are moments when it threatens to lead you into anxious and uncertain ground, which would have been welcomed, but instead it just takes you on a discursive journey towards predictable disappointment, and, although the twist at the end was more intricate than I would have initially expected, 11-11-11 is just another formulaic inclusion to the horror canon that will almost certainly be blasted into obscurity. If you still choose to go and see this film then you’re condemning yourself to a sermon at the church of mediocrity. The film’s tag line is: ‘Mark the date. You can’t stop what’s coming.’ Believe me, you can!