1BR (2019) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

1BR (2019) Review

Horrorific content by jessicagomez on April 24th, 2020 | Movie Review | Indie Horror, Home Invasion, Psychological

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It's about a young woman trying to start anew in LA, but her neighbors are not what they seem.

1BR was directed by David Marmor and stars Nicole Brydon Bloom, Alan Blumenfeld (from The Dark Side of the Moon), Naomi Grossman (from The Lurker and The Chair) and Susan Davis.

Welcome to the neighborhood

1BR is a psychological horror film following a soft-spoken young woman named Sarah, who moves into an apartment complex with a close-knit community. Sarah isn’t sure if the noises she hears at night in her apartment are a problem with the plumbing, or if it’s all in her head. She’ll soon find out that if she’s going to survive her new neighborhood, she’ll have to muster the strength she’s been lacking to keep herself sane.

If you’ve ever wondered how anyone could possibly be fleeced by a cult, 1BR is here to show you exactly how easy it is to take advantage of those in a frail state of mind.

Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom) is a shy only child who has moved to LA with nothing but the clothes on her back and her cat. She’s chasing a dream in the movie business, but she’s also running from the grief she’s been experiencing over her mother’s death and her father’s affair. When she’s selected for an apartment she’s applied to rent, she’s elated. 

At first, the community of neighbors within the complex looks like everything Sarah has been missing. Everyone looks out for each other and enjoys spending their days in the communal area together, and a love interest down the hall looks promising.

But from the first night, Sarah’s pipes seem to make loud sounds at night, and she finds it impossible to sleep...and this is just the beginning of a slew of personal issues. In fact, her problems escalate to the insanely horrific very early on. Is the community nefarious, or is this all in Sarah’s head? We don’t have to wait long at all to find out.

The story is at times gruesome, and at others heartbreaking, as we begin to see the vulnerabilities of the people who live in the complex and how they’ve been exploited. It’s not a torture porn film, but it isn’t exactly for the squeamish, either. Though the plot lacked somewhat in the background of the indoctrination, and a surveillance storyline was not fully fleshed out, it didn’t take away from the tension or enjoyability at all.

The performances in 1BR made the film what it was. As Bloom’s first feature, she was unsure of herself from the first scene, but it only lent itself to her role as a woman trying, and failing, to take charge of her own life. Taylor Nichols was outstanding, moving between a loving father figure and a rigid leader with ease and believability. Susan Davis was especially memorable as a forgotten movie star with no family but her neighbors, providing a maternal presence that Sarah had been lacking. Earnestine Philips and Giles Matthey were cast in strong roles, and they held them well. When well-known actors are cast in horror, you run the risk of it becoming over-produced, but that wasn’t the case for this indie gem.

Worth Watching?

Yes. This was an exceptional first feature from writer/director David Marmour. He borrowed a bit from The Invitation, and there’s even a sprinkling of an homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but 1BR stands on its own easily with a distinctive story. 

1BR was set to have a theatrical release on April 24th, but due to COVID-19 theater closures, it will instead be released digitally on the same date from Dark Sky Films.

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