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Review: INVESTIGATION 13 (2019)

Investigation 13 is yet another film that starts at the end as a group of paranormal researchers fight for their lives against an all too real threat. I probably should have cut my losses and turned it off then, but of course, I didn’t. I really need to follow my instincts more.

We have a team of researchers, Melanie (Stephanie Hernandez), Jerod (Patrick Flanagan), Nate (Giordan Diaz, HazMat), Ernie (Jesse Ramos) and Terry (William Alexander). They’re ecstatic as they’ve been given access to the Black Grove Asylum. It’s said to be haunted by the spirit of a former inmate, The Mole Man. And for their 13th investigation, they’re going to prove he exists.

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Let in and given a tour by caretaker Layla (Meg Foster, Masters Of The Universe, The Accursed) they are then locked into the deserted facility. Well, not entirely deserted, the Mole Man is real. But he isn’t a spirit, he’s a flesh and blood killer. And he’s tired of eating rats.

Just about everything in Investigation 13 is taken from other, usually better, films. The characters are all stereotypes. The driven female leader, the slacker too busy playing video games to notice what’s on the monitors, you get the idea. And, of course, they’re the usual assortment of ethnicities and skin colours.

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They’re locked in an asylum that, despite having been abandoned in the 80s, still has working mechanical lock steel doors and fresh razor wire. So, when they’re locked, they’re really locked in. And the one person who can let them out is keeping a secret or two.

But beyond the overly familiar plot, Investigation 13 has two problems that would have killed it even if the rest of the script had been solid. Much of the film’s backstory is told via animation. Really bad animation that almost looks like slightly enhanced storyboards. It’s cheap-looking and wastes what could have been several good kills. Indeed, even the present-day kills tend to happen off-screen, which is bad enough. Turning them into a bad slide show is maddening.

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If The Mole Man, (so named because he likes the dark), had been a memorable villain, he could have at least made Investigation 13 tolerable. But he’s a tall but incredibly scrawny figure, one of the team describes him as “extremely malnourished”. But he can overpower fit young college students and tear them apart for dinner. Also, unless I missed something, he’d be about 80 years old since he was institutionalized in the 1950s. The glimpses we get of him don’t look like a senior citizen, either.

Director Krisstian de Lara and the other makers of Investigation 13 want to turn The Mole Man into a franchise character. That’s scarier than anything in the film.

Investigation 13 is available on VOD and DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment. You can check its Facebook page for details. But you would be better off just watching Deadtectives. Or even Superman Versus The Mole Men.

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