The hauntings occur in the apartment occupied by Alan White (Kai Lennox, Beginners), a widower whose wife recently died in a car crash, leaving him with their curious young boy (newcomer Damian Roman) and resentful teenage girl (22-year-old Gia Mantegna, daughter of Joe). Tired of the unexplained occurrences, Mr. White has hired a two-man/one-woman team of parapsychologists (headed by Caddyshack's Michael O'Keefe, unrecognizable) to set up camera equipment and whatnot in hopes of finding the source.
It starts with a ringing phone and doorbell, and other noises, all accompanied by a temperature drop of 10 degrees. Then it escalates to moving objects, from a creaking door to a teapot, not so short and stout. And then to the kind of things that you watch these movies for, and which I won't spoil (although the Blu-ray cover and menu kind of do, and the special features absolutely do).
I give director Carles Torrens and screenwriter Rodrigo Cortés (who helmed Buried) credit for approaching Apartment 143 differently than most found-footage flicks: The camera doesn't shake you into nausea; the scares aren't blink-and-miss-it; and he injects some Insidious-esque elements into the story. For two-thirds of the 80-minute running time, it works; the other can't escape the muck that mires so many of these movies: dialogue intended to pad, but not to bore.
Neither Lennox nor O'Keefe are natural enough to pull off the film's illusion. The women are better; while too old to be playing a teen, Mantegna has the snottier-than-thou 'tude down pat, and the UK team member portrayed by Fiona Glascott (TV's Episodes) is the most grounded of the cast.
The awkward subtitle of [Emergo] is Apartment's alternate title in Spain, and not the old-school gimmick of that great horror huckster William Castle. One could argue to affix the label on the final shot one Castle would've dug, judging from viewers' likely reactions to it. Rod Lott