There are two types of bad films. The first being a film like Creature where a guy in a rubber alligator suit chases some boring kids thorough a swamp for reasons that are head scratching at best. It’s the kind of film that you don’t expect that film to be any good. The other type of bad film is a film like 11-11-11 where there is the seed of a great idea, something that a good film could be built around, but it fails so bad in the execution that by the end you’re hoping for the guy to show up in a rubber alligator costume and end it all. 11-11-11 definitely falls into the second category.
11-11-11 (god, that’s a pain in the ass to type) is a new age doomsday film written and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, the director of Saws II, III, and IV. It follows a troubled author as he begins to unravel a mystery involving the demonic properties of the number 11. I like Bousman. I give more credit to the middle Saw films than most people and was pretty impressed with the way he was able retrofit his original script into the Saw mythos for Saw II. The follow up to his foray into the Saw franchise, Repo! The Genetic Opera, was one of the most daring and ambitious projects I’ve seen in the last decade. He is one of the few writers/directors that has a definite palatable style. It happens to be a style I enjoy, and that style that’s nowhere to be find in this muddled mess of a film.
Timothy Gibbs is Joseph Crone, horror/conspiracy theory author who is still grieving for his dead wife and son when he begins receiving visions revolving around the date 11-11-11. Odd things begin to start happening to him specifically at 11:11. He rushes to Barcelona to be with his dieing father despite having disowned his family years before. While there the visions continue. His priest brother tries to find practical reasons for Josephs growing paranoia. It’s no use as the visions begin to manifest themselves in physical ways in the days leading up to 11-11-11 and Joesph realizes he may have become involved in something so sinister it may alter his entire view on heaven and hell, on life and death.
Sounds like a pretty cool little film in the vain of the 7th Sign, The Prophecy or even Warlock right? If could only be so simple. Mix some terrible looking practical effects, a twist that Ray Charles could have predicted (he’s dead and blind mind you) and some of the worst pacing of a film I’ve ever seen and what you get is one of the most disappointing films I’ve seen in a long time. To call the last reel of the film “thin” would be a rather generous compliment.
Gibbs is fine as the lead. He’s sort of a poor mans Roger Bart or a homeless mans George Clooney at times. The problem is not with Gibbs or the other actors he interacts with, it’s really with the material they are given. The idea of a date or time opening a doorway to hell or heaven or wherever is solid. It’s a rather intriguing, if not predictable plot device. Bousman’s script does have it’s heart in the right place. It seems that his head gets in the way more often than not during the film. He tries to be too cute. The first hour of the film is padded with more exposition than the first half of this seasons “The Walking Dead.” The payoff for such a long build up is so twisted and nonsensical it will leave you shaking your head for days.
The other thing that’s a shame is the films misuse of it’s location. Having spent some time in Barcelona over the last year, I can tell you it is a gorgeous, sometimes haunting city. The type of place in which film makers should be clamoring to shoot. You wouldn’t know that from this film, unless you are impressed by seeing the same exterior shot the main house again and again. The two scenes where we actually get to see the city are disappointing to say the least. Crones ride from the airport to his father seaside residence takes him past “La Sagrada Familia” for a cursory glance at some creepy imagery. None of it has anything to do with the film, nor would the cab driver take you through the center of the city to get from to the coast from the airport. The other scene has Crone and his lady friend, Sadie, walking around a topiary maze. The way Bousman films it, the scene could have taken place any city. I’m sure budget constraints contributed to the issue, but I was extremely disappointed nonetheless.
Chalk the location up as another reason this film just keeps falling short. It’s a real shame, like I said earlier. I like Bousman, I think he’s a talented writer and director, but for whatever reason, whether it was the budget being too small or the scope of his vision begin too big, it just doesn’t work here.