Have you ever had a love/hate relationship with a movie or book? It happens to me quite a bit. I will be sitting there enjoying a story when some stupid detail will pull me back to reality. In fact, it just happened to me the other day.
I was watching The Conjuring, and I got to the scene where (spoiler) Carolyn is possessed and kidnaps the kids. Lorraine figures out that the demon is possessing the mothers to kill the children, yet they leave all the kids alone with Carolyn immediately after figuring this out. Why?? The same problem killed Paranormal Activity 4 for me recently. Why tape everything after installing cameras everywhere, and then forget you’ve installed cameras everywhere when somebody doesn’t believe you??
Although there were quite a few good moments in 13/13/13, the movie has many of these similar questions.
The ancient Mayan calendar (famous for its apocalyptic ending date of 12/21/12) is responsible for the death and destruction on 13/13/13. The Mayan’s did not factor in leap years when calculating the apocalypse. Leap years add an additional month to the calendar (after 120 months) making it the 13th month of the 13th year of the (???)th millennium (Don’t try to do the math.).
Jack, a recent divorcee and former cop, is just finishing up a camping trip with some buddies when the madness begins. He returns home to find his ex-wife scrubbing the skin off of her arm in the sink. She’s rushed to the hospital, and his friends are left watching his 12 year old daughter Kendra.
The hospital staff is becoming more aggressive towards Jack, and Jack’s daughter and friends are becoming more and more unhinged. When Jack emerges from his wife’s hospital room, he finds that the hospital has descended into madness. He takes shelter with Candace (another person unaffected) in a locked room, and she explains the theory to him about the Mayan calendar. They discover that they both share birthdays on February 29th. Jack wants to get home to save his daughter from the madness that is erupting.
13/13/13 had me questioning reality almost immediately. Jack has a suspected pervert friend who he leaves his daughter with (who reminds me a lot of Taco from The League) even though it is confirmed that he told his daughter never to talk to him because he was a pervert. The math doesn’t quite make sense when calculating the date, but it is also explained to us by a random character hypothesizing about it. The crazies kill each other all the time, but seem to conveniently team up on occasion as well.
There were some very good things about the movie though. A lady attacks a man on the street and pushes her thumbs through his eyes. 13/13/13 becomes a zombie survival movie, and (not just the standard mindless zombies, but) intelligent zombies seem way scarier to me. The affected seem to have moments of clarity that are quickly pushed aside (if you know anybody with a mental disorder, you know what I’m talking bout). Jack’s 2 friends, Quentin and Joe, are annoying, but seem to be inspired and spout many Stephen King inspired rants (Big love/hate here).
The finale works on its own, and is the most inspired piece of writing here. Jack and Candace have been working their way back to Kendra, while Quentin, Joe, and Kendra are affected and have devolved from the beginning of the movie. It all comes to a head, and it works well. I loved it when Candace suggests that everybody might be normal the next day, and Jack calls out the stupidity of that (Again…something that got me in the Evil Dead remake. Why kill all your friends when you can just bury them and bring them back to life unscathed?).
Writer/Director James Cullen Bressack is young (20), and I expect big things from him in the future. He’s got a sick sense of humor (like when a television anchor gets killed and the Standby screen says “Stand the Fuck by” and the news ticker says the stock market is a joke) that had me laughing out loud. The scenes with Quentin and Joe last too long sometimes and are overacted, but they work. Between these and the Candace/Jack conversation, I see a director that cares about character development. That is horribly important in a genre that will sacrifice development for a cool kill scene.
Like many predecessors in the horror genre, 13/13/13 has some continuity issues. These traditionally take me out of the movie for a moment. Luckily, there are some good parts that did suck me back in. Overall, this is worth a look (especially if you like movies such as The Crazies, The Happening, Return of the Living Dead, and many nameless apocalypse movies where characters are just a little too crazy). Like most horror movies, we expect one more big scare from our foes. Hopefully, the Mayans (and their calendar of doom) stay down this time.