The film follows Sarah as she moves to LA and sets up home in an apartment complex. Her neighbours are friendly but the strain is getting to her with a broken relationship with her father and the mundanity of a temp job weighing her down. And then the strange occurrences begin to happen.
And that is where I will leave the synopsis as the film takes a number of left turns as it treads unfamiliar territory. And this is what makes 1BR such an engaging watch, as it often wrongfoots the viewer, throwing in complex ideas and rarely adhering to the expected genre trappings. While Marmor’s film never quite hits the heights of similarly-themed The Invitation, it is clearly influenced by this work, all the way down to its final moments. And the smack of real-life details makes this an always captivating film.
1BR is the kind of genre piece that can only be successful thanks to its ensemble, who give committed turns building into an uneasy atmosphere that crackles with tension. Nicole Brydon Bloom’s lead performance is fascinating, with Bloom’s expressive face enhancing the more shocking moments. Her Sarah is a sympathetic figure throughout, even if the narrative can occasionally trap her in positions that frustrate. But really Bloom is the only well-rounded figure in the film, with the rest of the characters feeling almost two-dimensional by necessity of the film’s nature.
Precisely crafted, packed with compelling themes and with keen ability to unsettle, Marmor’s debut marks him as a talent to keep an eye on as he shapes an expected woman-in-peril thriller into something altogether more original. 1BR fits nicely into a growing movement of films that show a disquiet with our modern urban life, managing to find something to say on the matter. If it doesn’t always click together, it is always a compelling work, one that makes me glad I don’t have to rent an apartment in LA.