The catalysts for horror film plots are always fascinating to watch unfold: playing with Ouija boards, reading ancient Sumarian burial practices and funerary incantations from an evil book, having sex while a kid drowns. In James Cullen Bressack’s 13/13/13, a calendar mishap (?) unleashes a strange epidemic of paranoid behaviors as ordinary people become violent and destructive and irrationality and instability spread like a virus, The 13th day of the 13th month in the 13 year of the 21st century cause people to kill others, mutilate themselves, and go insane. The time anomaly also causes people to become obsessed with getting each other beers, finding keys, and believing they are in the Korean War. The film takes ordinary postmodern anxieties and frustrations such as divorce, raising children, home defense, and negotiating our health care system and pushes them to ridiculous extremes in which the only response is to descend into primitive animalistic brutality. The recurring motif of 13 and the chaotic effect that the time disturbance has on the characters reflects the movement in contemporary horror towards the spreading pandemic apocalypse of World War Z, 28 Days Later, and The Crazies while the siege mentality recalls Night of the Living Dead and Assault on Precinct 13.
The acting in 13/13/13 is all over the place from caricatured characters to the extremely satisfying performance of Trae Ireland as the much put upon protagonist Jack. The dialogue comes from the Scarface/Full Metal Jacket/Reservoir Dogs school of public speaking but that is to be expected in a film about the releasing of depraved instinctual fury. Writer/director James Cullen Bressack (who made the interesting psychotic stalker film To Jennifer) teams up with production company The Asylum (responsible for the endlessly referenced Sharknado) and the results show flashes of style but is largely an uneven mix of straight horror and absurdist comedy. Bressack relies too much on using intense closeups of ordinary objects to suggest something sinister going on and the generic rock soundtrack doesn’t do the film any favors but the sound design is innovative and there is some decent gore. If you have a triskaidekaphobia fetish and enjoy watching braying oafs screaming obscenities at each other while indulging in senseless violence than set your watch to 13/13/13.