I’ve been waiting for the release of Investigation 13 for a long time now, so I’m especially happy that Uncork’d Entertainment picked it up for distribution. My excitement was sky high due to one of the film’s lead actors, Patrick D. Flanagan, who made me into a fan after he co-starred in Mike Mayhall’s horror flick, Jake’s Road, in 2017. Now, Patrick stars in Investigation 13 as a member of a college science team who investigate urban legends and hauntings with the goal of proving scientifically that ghosts exist. Their 13th mission takes them to the abandoned halls of the Black Grove Asylum, where an ex-patient known as The Mole Man is said to still frequent the building. When members of the team start going missing, they start to realize that this urban legend is far from a myth – it’s a reality that’s about to strike them down and eat their souls. Based on the story by Clay Smith, Investigation 13 was adapted to screen by Krisstian de Lara and Rolando Vinas, and stars Stephanie Hernandez, Patrick D. Flanagan, Giordan Diaz, William Alexander, Jesse Ramos, Meg Foster (They Live, Lords of Salem) and Peter Aratari. Find it on VOD and DVD starting September 10th 2019 courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment.
Investigation 13 starts with a bang, a real attention grabber; where the action is already taking place and two of the characters are trying to escape The Mole Man. Awesome. You see a shot of the villain, a long trail of blood, and the intensity that should entice any horror viewer. Then, it cuts to the credits and goes back to the beginning to start the story from its real starting point. The main protagonists are introduced and fleshed-out, the location is explored and established, and the legend of The Mole Man is brought out in frightening detail. It’s the logical, typical path of traditional horror film that’s safe from ruffling any feathers. While this is all well and good, it brings me to my one and only negative critique of this movie. I’ll just go ahead and say it this way… Something must have happened during principal photography. Something must have happened with budget and time constraints. Because Investigation 13 has these long sequences of animated content that is showcased like motion comic graphics and a lot of the best moments are wasted with literal cartoons. The Mole Man’s previous kills and spiral into insanity are slow moving, colorful graphics that don’t fit in with the style of this movie at all. Because of this, there are tremendous gaps in suspense and quality, and fuck, most of the deaths happen off screen; which leads me to believe something happened with budget. This, of course, is also confirmed by the fact that Investigation 13 took over three years to finish post-production edits.
Investigation 13 was shot by Gorilla Studios Miami under the direction of Krisstian de Lara. It was produced by Rolando Vinas with co-producers Peter Ebanks and Harrison C. Davies, and executive producer Ofer Zosman. It features cinematography by Ricardo Valdez and editing by Chris Davies. Aside from a fairly predictable ending, I have no complaints about Investigation 13 outside of its use of motion comics to tell the juicy, bloody parts of its story. I know I highlighted Patrick D. Flanagan at the start of this review, but I should note that all of the cast members in this production did a wonderful job, especially Stephanie Hernandez. The look, picture quality and editing in Investigation 13 is great, too. There were a couple visually pleasing shots that stood out as beautiful, even in a horror film like this, this flick looks like a million bucks even though it was filmed in an empty hospital. Investigation 13 jumps between found footage as the college kids record their adventure and narrative film whenever it makes more sense to not be holding a camera, and I’m OK with this tactic because I expected it going in. With a Native American subplot, a scientific theme, and a new villain plastered against an unforgiving landscape, Investigation 13 had a lot going for it both in front of and behind the camera.
It’s just a shame that the weird graphics and off camera deaths ruined its chances of being anything other than average. Final Score: 6 out of 10.