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– by Daniel Tafoya

1BR tells a tale that is very L.A. A young woman moves to the city to pursue her dreams in the entertainment industry. She lucks into what she thinks is the dream apartment, but it turns out to be a real nightmare for her.

Sarah, an aspiring costume designer working a temporary office job, doesn’t know anyone in Los Angeles, but makes fast friends at her new apartment complex. Everyone there is welcoming and kind, but she is to find out before too long that appearances can be deceiving. She hears creepy sounds and sees shadows shifting in the night in her new abode, but that is only a small fragment of the terror to come.

It turns out those nice neighbors she thought were looking out for her are actually a cult, and they have chosen her to be their newest member. Her initiation is horrific and painful, as they break her down to something more malleable. She eventually gives in and becomes a trusted member of the community. She is not long for the cult though, as they show themselves to be even more vicious than she thought. Will she make it out alive or will she become just another casualty of their sinister group?

Nicole Brydon Bloom plays Sarah, in her first feature film. While she doesn’t have much screen experience, just a few short films, and TV roles, she more than holds her own with the experienced actors she is surrounded by. Tortured and terrified, her character goes through the wringer, and Bloom sells it all onscreen, bringing us into Sarah’s emotional orbit.

Inspired by his experiences of moving to L.A. and feeling alone while surrounded by strangers, writer-director David Marmor does a good job recalling the thrillers of Roman Polanski with his film. Mixing in a little bit of the torture porn likes of Eli Roth, he ends up crafting something wholly original.

A bit of a slow burn type horror movie, 1BR does get kicking and builds to an unforgettable climax. Currently playing film festivals worldwide, it will hopefully find a home at the right distributor who can help bring its genre delights to audiences everywhere.

Recommended if you liked: The Invitation, Repulsion, The Tenant

FINAL GRADE: B

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