Colton has grown up more quickly than he expected. His father has abandoned him, his younger sister, Rachel, and mother, he’s become responsible for the daily chores, and has taken over partial parental duties when comes to Rachel, especially when their mother escapes to a 16-day getaway to decompress. While overseeing his daily errands and sister-sitting duties, the old, vacant house across the street shows signs of life when a father and daughter move in. Curiosity gets the better of Colton as he snoops around the house and bumps into Heather, the reclusive daughter who he immediately takes a shine to, but when he witnesses peculiar activity from the father, Colton is convinced of ill-intentions toward his daughter. Colton and Heather scheme ways to prove his wickedness and the mysteries behind the old house and previous family disappearances, but when her father’s grasp grips tighter, Colton’s decides to take Heather’s safety to the next level even if he doesn’t know or understand exactly the occult dealings he’s charging himself into.
Debuting her first full-length feature film, “Day 13” is the upcoming occult horror film that has reckless teenager whims, satanic sacrificial rituals, cat delicacies, and an Earth conquering demon from director Jax Medel from a script penned by Dan Gannon and Walter Goldwalter. Distributed by the genre bending Breaking Glass Pictures, which will be released August 8, 2020 on Video on Demand, “Day 13” simmers vehemently with teenage romance coursing through ominous waters that exploded violently with an archaic doomsday-apocalypse of brimstone and hellfire. Shot in and around Beverly Hills, Burbank and other suburbanite locations of the greater Los Angeles area of California, “Day 13” gleams with a West Coast vibe that quickly clouds over darkly, casting an ominous sensation like a lurking, shark shape shadow gliding through surfer saturated beach waters throughout. “Day 13” is a production on KAPOW Entertainment, which is founded by Jax Medel along with Richard C. Brooks, giving the filmmaker complete omnipotent over her project.
Hot off the coattails of hit Amazon Prime (“Transparent”) and Netflix (“13 Reasons Why”) series, Alex MacNicoll expands his portfolio further in the feature film market beyond his roles in “The 5th Wave” and “The Last Rampage,” tackling the occult playing a high schooler. The then 18-year-old during production, MacNicoll just left the grades of 9 through 12, but has been an actor since the age of 14. “Day 13” marks his second time playing a character named Colton who has eerily the same personality traits as his “Transparent” Colton that exudes the nice kid persona. As Colton Fremont, MacNicoll has to grow up sooner than he should when his father skips out on the family, a fact that’s barely divulged of any detail. MacNicoll is sure footed in his portrayal of a young, dumb, but great kid, bored out of his mind with the best intentions at heart. When a father and daughter move into the neighborhood’s spook house next door under surreptitious conditions, Colton becomes that old idiom, the mice will play while the cat is away, as he begins to spy on his neighbors, become enthralled by the recluse daughter, Heather (Genevieve Hannelius), and begins to routinely break into her house to see if she is okay from her strange and strict father. The father, who all we know is her adoptive father and has those strict rules we mentioned, is played by “Karate Kid’s” very own Cobra Kai master, Michael Kove. Kove’s relatively hidden away from the camera, given the perception his character, Magnus Travold, is up to no good behind the drapes until he’s hunting for intruders with an axe through the creaky halls and staircases of his new home. The dynamic between Travold and Colton is non-existent and the dynamic between Travold and Heather also sparks little hesitation about the old man’s intentions, but we’re privy to his cloaked dealings of rite and Heather’s unexplained abdominal pangs and it’s as if Jax Medel is literally drawing a picture of a visual 2+2 for audiences who may not connect the dots, fabricating devil perversity for the sake of story structure. “Day 13” rounds out with a supporting cast that includes “Angel 4: Undercover’s” Darlene Vogel, Meyrick Murphy (“The Walking Dead”), and JT Palmer.
While Medel’s experience hovers around the realm of the short film, there’s immense growing pains in her transition into feature film for the young filmmaker. Style, story structure, perception of time, and character development bare the brunt of Medel’s inexperience. The style is ultimately the best out of the four talking points as it’s just a personal opinion and observation that points out the plain rudimentary look of the picture that isn’t establishing a personal touch or a voice of her own talents. Medel can piecemeal a film together, but without any substance to stand out amongst the fray. As for the story structure, it collapses on itself nearing the end of act 2. Colton is now seemingly obsessed rather than concerned with Heather, purchasing nearly $1000 (on who’s credit card and not have the bank ping it?) worth of video equipment to spy on her and her father. Heather, even though she’s aware of Colton’s spying, only embraces on baseless accusations toward her father which blurs the line on Colton and Heather’s bond. At this point is where the perception of time goes into hyperdrive that accelerates their young teenage coupling into a quizzical love for each other without so much of a courtship of any sort, Colton’s deranged obsession with the house and residents that structures more curious enigma barriers over the house itself rather than Heather, and the nights leading up to the twisted climatic finale that skips stirring up suspense with frantic bewilderment of the players wondering the house looking for one another. When Colton’s best friend, Michael, decides to help him spy on and infiltrate into the neighbors house without so much batting an eye, I think he was also caught up in Colton’s infectious mania because all Michael wants to do is go out on his boat and be with his girl.
Countdown the days until “Day 13” hits online video on demand retail shelves, such as Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox, Playstation, Vudu, Fandango & Vimeo, courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures. Since the screener was digital, video and audio technical specs will not be critiqued. A couple of things to point out about the inherent A/V aspects are important to note if deciding to stay in one Friday night to watch a scary movie. Though much of the film bares little effect of any kind and relies more on practical realism for the majority, when the visual effects by Mat Fuller (“ABCs of Death 2”) do come into the fold, they are slightly clunky, but by and large, not bad considering “Day 13’s” indie budget and are sorely underused when the full of demon apocalypse takes shape. The other takeaway from this review is about the odd ambient soundtrack as I wasn’t sure if I was watching Colton, Heather, and Travold in a house or on an 18th century mast ship. The house’s creaky hardwood floors sounded more like the swaying of a the Santa Maria pulling up into Plymouth Rock. There were no bonus material included with the digital screener nor were there any bonus scenes during or after the credits. “Day 13” has an intriguing premise of fraught young love topped with black magic, but, like the old superstitions of the number 13, Jax Medel’s debut fell upon bad luck, bad timing, and bad basics.