Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
February 15th, 2020

Investigation 13

Investigation 13
Directed by Krisstian de Lara
Written by Clay Smith
Starring Meg Foster, Denise M. Kelone, Stephanie Hernandez
90 mins

You know it's a horror movie when they slap the number 13 in the title, and for "Investigation 13", that may be one of the biggest things going for it. However, there's more going on here than meets the surface, but how much more, and will it be of any value to start digging?

"Investigation 13" gives us one of the great premises of modern horror film: college students off investigating an urban legend. They're doing so for the 13th time, in fact, hence the name. It's one you may not have heard of, though, and in all honesty one I haven't heard of either. This time it's an entity known as the Mole Man, who, beneath the clever nom de urban legend, is actually a former patient of the Black Grove Asylum who is still, at last report, living within its walls. Okay, interesting enough, but it's about to get a lot more interesting when members of the investigating party start vanishing, and there's a lot of indication the Mole Man may be behind it. How many of our party will survive? Who will live to tell the tale?

If that sounds thrilling to you, well, it should, at least on the surface. Sure, it's not winning any prizes for originality; movies from "Wrong Turn" to "Session 9" to "Grave Encounters" have taken similar stabs at this concept. But if this ground is well-worn, then at least it's well-worn for a reason. Movies built around abandoned asylum urban legends tend to be pretty decent, if not a mite cliche. If the execution is any kind of decent, then we could be in for a decent time.

I give them credit in the early going; they've built tension pretty nicely with some disjointed scene work, but it starts getting downright strange from there. There's a bizarre animation sequence about nine minutes in that seems wildly out of place. It wouldn't be the first time, either; whether it was a deliberate choice or some reflection of budgetary issues is unclear, but suddenly switching over to a truly shoddy cartoon really doesn't work well. Seriously, this is "Worker and Parasite" grade animation; Krusty the Clown is expressing his shock and disgust with obscenities as we speak.

However, there's one shining light here: Meg Foster. She played Layla Parrish, and was a real wonder in this. She delivers malice the way Uber Eats delivers food, except more often and much more rapidly. She is a walking cloud of malice, and she is awesome; her performance automatically makes this just a little better than it should be.

The second half of the movie actually picks up substantially, as we get into the meat and potatoes of the "cannibal in the abandoned asylum" subgenre, with all that that entails. Creepy visuals, sudden shocks, and some interesting callbacks to the earlier investigations throw a little extra life into things. Sadly, the cartoons keep cropping up, which doesn't help matters, but the parts that aren't cartoon aren't half bad.

The ending is much like the rest of the movie, a bit disjointed but with sufficient action to keep a viewer's interest well in place.

Special features include English subtitles and trailers for "D-Railed", "The Night Sitter", and "The Child Remains".

All in all, it's a solid not bad for "Investigation 13." The parts that worked worked rather well, and the parts that didn't work were thankfully comparatively few in number that they could be glossed over without much trouble. The end result is a solid if undistinguished outing that should do the job for horror buffs who have already worked through their to-watch list of much better titles.