It is another creepy cult movie. A decently done yet still generic film that you shouldn’t spend too much time looking for.
The film starts off with Sarah trying to create a new start in LA. Unfortunately, this new start is brought to her by the creepy cult that owns the 1-bedroom apartment that is about to be the cause of the drama in this movie. Let me say that this movie does a poor job at creating the suspense needed to set the tone that it wishes to achieve. Most plot points are loudly telegraphed through random long shots. When she spends her first night in the complex, the camera pans away from Sara and stops on the units blinking fire alarm. This is obviously a hidden camera set up to watch her and it will most definitely come up later. I do not have a problem with symbolism, but it is ridiculous how much symbolism this film will try to throw at the audience. It is as if the director doesn’t have faith that the audience can come to their own conclusions so the film will constantly hand hold, taking away any creepy tone it was asking for.
Movies of a similar genre are successful because of the suspicion. Take the original Stepford Wives film, although flawed, it presents the audience with this suburban utopia, but it also gives the audience bits and pieces of flaws in society that suggest something nefarious is afoot. You have the women malfunctioning, you have strong independent women suddenly becoming subservient, and you along with the character feel that there is something wrong with the town. In 1BR, you never really get that feeling because you know from the start what is wrong so there is no point in watching the rest.
This movie is incredibly generic. It doesn’t take long for the tenants to take Sarah to try to reprogram her to see the truth. A truth written by some dead guy about the importance of community. It is through these generic tenants that the cult is created and then you just watch her do a whole lot of nothing. The torture is simple and as hard as it tries to emulate other movies that do it, they do it very poorly. Brain washing consists of her stating in an uncomfortable position for hours only being fed once a day with a nasty looking milkshake. The film suggests that hours of standing in this isolated room in the apartment that she rented, hunger, and finally the nails that go through her hands (possibly Christ-like) are enough to brain washing her into joining this society.
The brainwashing obviously doesn’t work and at this point you are halfway through the movie with little hope of it getting better. It zooms past all the tropes presented in far better movies in order to stay within the genre, for example the idea that man is corrupt and selfish and through this new cult, all of man’s problems will be solved. They also do a whole scene where they kill their oldest member because she is no longer of use. Even the big escape and the twist are anti-climactic. There isn’t really any saving grace to this film. I wouldn’t waste my time watching this movie unless it was free. Even then, there are far better movies in this genre you could be watching. This was a pretty meh attempt at brining the genre to an urban setting.