The Disappointments Room

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Release: Friday, September 9, 2016

[Theater]

Written by: D.J. Caruso; Wentworth Miller

Directed by: D.J. Caruso

I would be more upset about the way this anti-thrilling psychological thriller turned out but I brought this upon myself. I knew what Rotten Tomatoes had said about it. I knew no one was talking about it. No one was in the theater with me when I saw it. Part of me (the masochistic part of me that really needs help) was curious to see why. Would it be worth the six smackaroonies I put down apologetically at the box office?

The Disappointments Room is a bad title for an even worse film. It references a kind of holding cell that was established by early 19th Century well-to-do families who needed a place to stow away their ‘undesirables’ — their hopelessly disfigured, ugly and otherwise lame offspring they couldn’t possibly bring themselves to publicly acknowledge. Left alone for years on end, these children would ultimately perish in isolation, their spirits left to haunt that room and the house. Ironically that title also represents truth in advertising, when director D.J. Caruso (I Am Number Four; Disturbia) really needed something more . . . misleading, like The So-Spooky-You-Just-Have-To-Watch-It Room.

Young couple Dana (Kate Beckinsale) and David (Mel Raido) have left Brooklyn with their son Lucas (Duncan Joiner) for a fresh start in the countryside after a traumatic event left them reeling. Dana’s an architect and wants everyone in town to know that women are perfectly capable of being architects, and that she is planning to bring her sharp eye for architectural detail to the mansion she and her family have just architecturally moved into. The place is a real fixer-upper, and of course it has an urban legend attached to it, because why wouldn’t it? Blacker Manor, as it is known around this podunk community, is the site of an infamous murder of a daughter by her own father, the prominent Judge Blacker (Gerald McRaney).

As they get settled and Dana the Architect inspects the property for things that need attention, she comes across a locked room in an attic. She’s alarmed this feature wasn’t included in the building schematic and wants to find out what it is, architecturally speaking, of course, especially after she briefly gets trapped inside it — one of several remarkably poorly executed sequences that leaves you scratching the architecture of your head. Dana has a certain history — as all women in horror films must have — that leads her down a path filled with weird hallucinations and disconcerting encounters. Beckinsale’s poor performance doesn’t help matters, but the character is an utter bore as she tries to convince David something is wrong with the house.

There’s no end to the clichés in The Disappointments Room. The execution is ruthlessly rote, a problem compounded by some really clumsy, confusing directing. One can never get a good sense of what is supposed to be “the ultimate terror” lurking in the darkness of that depressing, dusty room because the filmmakers seem to have no faith in their ability to create something fresh from old scraps. There’s a theoretical parallel drawn between Dana’s tragic past and the history of this mansion, but the lack of confidence behind the camera translates to a lack of confidence in front of it. Beckinsale simply could not make me care. Then there’s the subplot involving a local construction worker that fizzles out as though the writer forgot to finish the draft.

The production is, in a word, a mess. I was able to get into the spirit of things early on despite the ache of familiarity setting in almost immediately. There’s an intimacy amongst these characters and I appreciated the understated manner in which this couple tries to adjust to their new surroundings — you know, the kind that often contributes mightily to any given character’s vulnerable psychological state. And Raido has great chemistry with his diminutive co-star, fully selling us on his fatherly bond and thankfully he also carries an optimism that contrasts against Beckinsale’s unconvincing aloofness.

I don’t think Caruso had any pressure riding on him to conjure the next genre classic, though surely horror directors these days have a heightened awareness of the increasing availability of effective, niched independent releases that have necessarily upped the ante for the genre as a whole. There’s nothing really to bash about a film being average and forgettable when it is enjoyable. The Disappointments Room didn’t need to do anything crazy, but it needed to do more than this. The only thing worse than identifying myself as the only patron to see this film that day was the stench of regret that followed me as I walked out of an empty cineplex.

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Recommendation: Considering all that is on offer with the advent of independent horror, I would have to say there is very little reason to go near The Disappointments Room unless you are a completionist. There’s simply not enough interesting material here to recommend. And if you want further proof, the review you’ll find at the bottom of this film’s IMDb page is excellent, and better sums up my thoughts on this rig than my own.

Rated: R

Running Time: 92 mins.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited. 

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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20 thoughts on “The Disappointments Room

  1. Hehehe, you are such a masochist mate! Kudos! Though I doubt this thing will ever come to Aus, I don’t really care! I love the bit you said at the start – an anti-thrilling thriller. HAHA!

    • Haha, ‘masochist’ is about right! This thing was pretty bad. Needs to be said, it’s not the worst acting ever but the story is godawful

    • Your time would be better served sitting in on a lecture on how to make a good horror film generic. Watching the actual thing happen, meaning watching a decent premise get squandered like this, is pure torture. Ugh.

    • I know, doesn’t that tile just set itself up for jokes? It’s crazy how that was approved (and ditto that for the rest of the film.) Avoid, Natasha. Avoid like the plague!

  2. I wish Kate Beckinsale would be given a role to sink her teeth into. When she is given a well-written part, she is really something. She was outstanding in Love and Friendship which I saw earlier this year.

    • Personally I don’t think she’s that great of an actress but she’s lovely to look at. 😉 I did hear she was quite good in Love and Friendship, though. I skipped that one but maybe I shouldn’t have. . .

    • Bazinnnggga! 🙂 You hit the nail on the head there. It’s so bad. I wasn’t surprised I was the only one going to see this thing. It had no hype and there was no reason for that, it turns out. :\

  3. Can’t say I saw the trailer. Only knew it was out cause I went to see probably equally as bad When the Bough Breaks and there were posters all about for The Disappointments Room.

    Wow, that is such a hilariously bad title. Worst move of the year, up there with IDR?

    • I don’t know if I can really make the comparison between this and that (would-be) massive blockbuster. Both films failed spectacularly that’s for sure. And I didn’t carry any expectations into either of them (certainly not into Resurgence, I smelled a shit pile from miles away). But yeah, I’d give this Disappointments Room a good spot on my Year End Nastiest List. 🙂

  4. Something just didn’t click with me after watching the trailer. Admittedly I’ll watch Kate Beckinsale read a magazine for two hours…I can’t help myself, but can’t say this movie excites me.

  5. What a mess, man. Sounds like the lack of confidence from the director and the studio really burned this one down. Thanks for taking one for the team, though!

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