April 24, 2012
Darren Lynn Bousman
Darren Lynn Bousman
Timothy Gibbs as Joseph Crone
Michael Landes as Samuel Crone
Wendy Glenn as Sadie
Benjamin Cook as Cole
Salomé Jiménez as Sarah
Whenever there is a goofy horror movie concept, it is a good bet there will be a resulting goofy horror movie. Of course, the same could be said for many fantastic classics of the genre including The Evil Dead (A cabin in Tennessee for Spring Break, really? What happened to Cabo?) and Phantasm (Tall alien guy, killer metal ball – makes no sense). Only time will tell for sure, but I think a film centered on the frequent occurrence of the number 11 may become the film that, though not a classic, is surprisingly enjoyable and occasionally re-watched.
11-11-11 begins with the suffering plight of Joseph Crone (Timothy Gibbs), a best-selling author and devout atheist who lost his wife and child in a tragic fire. In spite of the fact that he can’t seem to write anything that avoids the Best Seller lists and is very successful, he longs for the day when his life ends and the pain goes away.
Joseph hears from his estranged brother that his father is on his death bed, and reluctantly returns to his birthplace of Barcelona Spain to do his son-ly duty – in spite of the fact that he can’t stand his father, or any surviving member of his family. His father was once a priest in Spain who apparently cast Joseph out of the house, and his wheelchair-ridden brother has taken up the holy torch and presides over a congregation that meets on the grounds of the family home.
Throughout much of Joseph’s life he has noticed a frequent occurrence of the number 11 – his mother died at 11:11, his wife and son perished at the same time by the clock, and even his own near-miss auto accident occurred at precisely that hour. As he prepares travel to Spain, and after he arrives the number 11 begins to show itself more and more, leading to a clashing of religion and the supernatural that impacts the entire family.
Does anyone remember The Number 23, that silly Jim Carrey movie where he became obsessed with that number and it ended up ruling his life? Not only is that film a dog, the entire concept is silly. Who cares about the number 23 – who cares about the number 11. Films about obsession with things like this are not usually on anyone’s priority list, and with good reason – it’s a stupid concept for a horror film. At least 11-11-11 does touch on the fact that groups of people exist who believe this number has some huge significance, and that the date November 11, 2011 was the source of some speculation and theories as it approached. Considering it is now past that date and the world is still here, those theories go the way of the ending of the Mayan calendar but I’m sure there is at least someone who donned Nikes and gulped a huge glass of Hale-Bop punch to celebrate the date’s arrival. Wait… the Mayan calendar doesn’t end until December 21, 2012 so the jury is still out on that one – but the point is there are cockamamie theories for just about everything, the world was supposed to end dozens of times by now, and obsession with numbers cropping up in one’s life is boring – a dumb thing to base a horror movie on.
Add to the loser of a concept the fact that the dialogue in 11-11-11 sometimes borders on ridiculous; Proclamations about this, that and the other thing… monologues about the pointlessness of life and believing in God, some real eye-rollers. The performances in this film are another potential issue, not because they are consistently bad but because they are inconsistent – sometimes just fine, other times so stiff and unnatural that it is very clear that there are actors playing a part onscreen rather than enabling the illusion that the audience is a voyeur catching a snippet of real life unfolding. There are several points in 11-11-11 when it all seems to be just too much, and the scan for the remote control’s stop button begins… but wait!
Every time the negatives begin to reach critical mass, something cool happens and, for a time, all is forgiven. Some pacing issues allow that mass of negativity to creep back in a few times, but then something else will happen, the story will be quickly progressed, the performer’s expressions facilitate the illusion beautifully… and then the ending is so great that a “wow, that was really good!” is the aftertaste that remains as the credits roll.
11-11-11 is a film that may just cross that hump that allows horror fans to forgive the obvious weaknesses to be enjoyed as a total package. There are a number of loved and revered horror films over the last few decades that have achieved this phenomenon, and most people would never have imagined at the time of release that these films would wind up on “best of” lists 30 years later. Perhaps 11-11-11 will begin as a “guilty pleasure” for a few Horror Freaks, and only time will tell whether that will evolve into it’s own critical mass. It’s difficult to rationally explain, but I do believe the potential is there.