PLOT: An author visiting his dying father and preacher brother in Barcelona begins to notice an odd and ominous connection between the numbers 11 11 and the frightening visions that have begun to plague him. Convinced that he and his brother are in danger, he sets out to uncover the significance of the 11 11 phenomenon.
REVIEW: Darren Lynn Bousman tackled torture-porn with SAW 2-4, dystopian rock opera with REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA and home invasion (as well as bad parenting) with MOTHER'S DAY. Now he's gone ahead and gotten religion. Which is perfect, for religion can be a scary thing...
Famous author Joseph Crone (Timothy Gibbs) is having a rough time: He's having frequent nightmares about the death of his wife and child, he's recently gotten into a near-fatal car accident, and his father is close to dying. Extremely successful but without much to live for, Joseph is forced to reunite with his brother and father - both holy men - as the latter lay dying in a spacious beachfront house in Barcelona. Joseph, a strict Atheist, doesn't get along well with either family member (mom is dead, a sore spot for all); but the old familial tensions take a backseat to a more pressing problem, like the shadowy figures he's begun to see lurking on the periphery of seemingly every room. In addition, he's startled to realize (apparently for the first time) that the numbers 11 11 have been prevalent in almost every major event of his life. His wife and child died on the date, as did his mother (while giving birth to his brother); his car accident happened at 11:11, and so on. As November 11, 2011 approaches, Joseph starts to consider that these numbers have been warnings of a sort, and that the impending date holds dire consequences for himself, his family and, perhaps, the world.
Bousman tells this story with a quiet energy; not going for cheap shocks or wanton bloodshed, he instead allows the central mystery of the movie to drive the plot forward with the hopes that it will creep under our skin as it does with Joseph. Unfortunately, the central mystery isn't always so intriguing. There's a lot going on in the movie's mind but it seems like it's not clear on how to say it - or how to make it more interesting. It tackles the big issues fundamental to a religious horror film - is there a God? Is the end of the world coming? - but it never convinces us that there's an epic tale being told. There are a few moments of spookiness, but the film is repetitive and beats all of its good notions into the ground: One cool shot of a freaky demon standing in the shadows becomes ten shots just like that; one line of dialog from Joseph about how he's not a big fan of going to church turns into fifteen similar lines. 11-11-11 frequently appears to be unsure of where to go with its premise, so it needs to reproduce some of its own scenes. There's also plenty of exposition, with more than half of the dialog devoted to either explaining what's happening or what has already happened. The calamitous ending (complete with earth-shaking twist, of course), is welcome by the time it rolls around because the movie has felt stuck in neutral by that time.
What the movie does have going for it is Gibbs, who delivers an engaging performance, and a cinematic city that's a perfect setting for the tale. Credit must also be given to Joseph Bishara's score which, despite being overbearing sometimes, is overall quite effective in helping along the gloomy mood. Production design is also rather good, especially when the manor where the film primarily takes place starts to become overrun with craggy plant life. Wish I could say the same for the demons who creep around the edges of the screen. Fine when they're shrouded in darkness, their faces are unfortunately less-than-scary when fully shown. (Just picture a rubber Halloween demon mask at the local costume shop and you'll get the picture.)