I rarely do this as a movie review, but I’m trying to come to terms with what Apartment 143/Emergo was actually about and therefore need to write this like everyone has already seen the movie as well. That’s why I labeled this review as containing spoilers. If you haven’t seen Apartment 143/Emergo and want to be surprised when you do, this is an appropriate place to stop reading. You have been warned!
Apartment 143/Emergo is a Spanish movie (hence Emergo) but everyone speaks English. For that reason, it will be referred to as Apartment 143 from this point on. The subgenre is thoroughly confusing because what the psychologist investigator says is happening would make this a psychological thriller but what viewers see would make this a supernatural demonic possession movie. This is the key reason I didn’t understand this movie, and I will explain in depth on that later.
Apartment 143 begins with a team of parapsychology investigators driving to their assignment. The team banters/insults each other, which is not at all important except that viewers learn that Paul is the technology expert, Ellen is the “telephone girl”/secretary, and Dr. Helzer is the parapsychologist (more of a true psychologist, but with some knowledge of the supernatural). The team meets the family, a recently-widowed father of a young boy named Benjamin and a thirteen-year-old girl named Caitlin. The father, Mr. White, thinks they are being followed by a destructive, angry ghost, possibly his dead wife Cynthia. The team sets up all sorts of neat environment monitoring equipment and for the weekend the family is under video surveillance. All of that is straightforward, but then explanations of the psychological or supernatural phenomenon get confusing.
From the beginning there is evidence of a supernatural entity in the apartment. There is unexplainable tapping, phone calls with nobody on the other end, items being rearranged/destroyed, changes in characters (especially teenage Caitlin), physical attacks, video footage being deleted without any of the team members touching the computers or equipment, actual sightings of an entity, possession of Caitlin, and near the end, massive poltergeist activity and Caitlin levitating at the same time.
Dr. Helzer attempts to explain it away with the poltergeist activity being connected to a living person in the apartment turning their pent-up rage into physical, violent actions against themselves and others. He decides that Caitlin is the source because a) she was so resentful of her father killing her mother and b) she was showing symptoms of schizophrenia. About thirty minutes before the end of the movie, viewers learn that the White family had a police file on them the night Cynthia White was beat up by her husband and died chasing after them in her car. Her death was presumably accidental but Dr. Helzer (after accessing the file) believed Mr. White was not blameless and Cynthia had the same disorder as Caitlin was exhibiting. Viewers are thus expected to believe that the “haunting” and the poltergeist activity was not at all supernatural.
But wait, what’s the final scene before the credits? Why, it’s a camera the parapsychologist team chooses to leave behind that captures a ceiling-crawling demonic entity! It’s the same entity that was shown on film earlier in the movie when the team thought there may have been paranormal activity and again when it possessed Caitlin, warping her body to look evil and wrong.
I am as confused as ever by the ending and how it blows the accepted psychological explanation to pieces. I checked IMDB’s Apartment 143 page to see if anyone else was confused as well. In the forums, many people created more plausible explanations for the supernatural/psychological aspects of the movie than what the movie itself did. The consensus is that it was a haunting after all and the demonic entity was the cause for Cynthia and Caitlin’s changes. I like this explanation; It proves that science doesn’t solve every problem and we need to be more open to possibilities. I’m no less confused by how these very obvious paranormal situations were written off as mental illness and anger issues. If anyone can explain how the psychological theory posed by Dr. Helzer makes sense (in context of the movie), I would love to hear it.