He researches the 11-11 phenomenon and discovers that people around the world have had similar experiences and view them as supernatural signs, whether good or evil. In particular, the more he studies and the more visions he sees of shadowy beings looming around him, the more he's convinced that a gateway between this world and the next will open on November 11.
Bolstering this theory is Joe's estranged father (Denis Rafter), a retired priest who calls for his oldest son on his deathbed. Joe flies to Barcelona to visit him and his younger brother Samuel (Michael Landes), a preacher who's never seen eye-to-eye with Joe on matters of religion. In one of his few lucid moments, their father tells Joe that "they" are coming and that he should protect the wheelchair-bound Samuel. But protect him from what? And what happens if he fails?
The End Result
Although the overall plot has some interesting moments that border on genuine insight, it's clear that crafting individual scenes -- and dialogue in particular -- isn't Bousman's strong suit as a writer. From the stiff, overly formal speech to the expository wannabe-noir voiceover to the heavy-handed religious debate, every spoken word comes off as leaden and emotionless. Certainly, some of the blame can fall on the cast, but more often than not, it's due to a rigid script that treats its individual scenes like mere filler to bridge the gaps in the overall story.
As such, the scares are largely ill-conceived -- pretty much just shadowy figures looming in the background -- and fail to generate the sense of foreboding or the wow factor needed to ratchet up the tension for the climactic reveal. The action is either matter-of-fact or rushed and at times, frankly, is puzzling: if Joe is so concerned with protecting his brother, why doesn't he stick by his side all day on 11-11-11? Instead, he goes...sightseeing?
A meaty twist ending partially redeems the script, although it's delivered in an overdone Saw-ish montage, and it probably raises more questions than it answers. That said, Bousman still delivers and attractive final product that makes the deficient content all the more frustrating. Maybe without the constraints of studio input, Bousman was allowed too much rope with which to hang himself.
- Acting: C (The cast is handcuffed by the stiff dialogue. Gibbs is solid but comes off as a poor man's George Clooney.)
- Direction: C- (Attractively shot but lacking in thrills or genuine emotion.)
- Script: D+ (The overall plot has potential, but the scenes need tightening.)
- Gore/Effects: C (Minimal gore; modest effects.)
- Overall: C- (Bland supernatural thriller that maintains enough mystery to keep you watching for the reveal, but the intriguing twist ending comes too late to save the film.)
11-11-11 is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for violence/terror, some disturbing images and thematic material. Release date: November 11, 2011.