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edge staff writer


'The Disappointments Room' accurately titled

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Dull, derivative horror movie fails on every possible level

2016 has been a strong year for the horror genre. While many of the blockbuster releases have fallen short of expectations, studios have seen a fair degree of success both critically and commercially with smaller-scale horror movies. There have been a lot of good ones.

'The Disappointments Room' is not one of them.

The film directed by D.J. Caruso from a script he co-wrote with Wentworth Miller languished in limbo for some time as it sought distribution following the bankruptcy of Relativity Media. If you're wondering, the answer is yes it absolutely should have stayed there.

Dana (Kate Beckinsale, 'Love & Friendship') and David (Mel Raido, 'Legend') are leaving behind their city life. Along with their son Lucas (Duncan Joiner, 'The Perfect Guy'), they're trying to get away from it all in an effort to move beyond a family tragedy.

Their new home is a looming, sprawling Gothic mansion, a ramshackle fixer-upper that is somehow intended to give Dana a project that will allow her to healor something. It's never made particularly clear how this is supposed to help her she's clearly still haunted by the memories of her loss.

As Dana explores her new home, she starts to see and hear things that she can't explain things that her family chalks up to lingering issues with her mental state. She soon discovers a secret room in the attic a room with metal floors and a door that can only be opened from the outside. She starts getting flashes of the room's past she starts seeing a mysterious little girl (Ella Jones in her feature debut) and the house's original owner, the esteemed and decidedly sinister Judge Blacker (Gerald McRaney, 'Focus').

Thanks to a conveniently knowledgeable bookstore owner (Marcia de Rousse, TV's 'True Blood'), Dana soon learns about the concept of a 'disappointments room' a room built by well-to-do families in which to keep offspring whose physical and/or mental disabilities make them an embarrassment to their parents.

As Dana's psyche reaches its breaking point, she's left to try and determine whether her visions are the result of the house's spiritual contamination or simply sprung from the depths of her own mental breakdown.

Does that sound interesting? If so, you have my apologies, because I have clearly misled you. This is not an interesting movie. It is a bad movie. It is, dare I saya disappointment.

The narrative is so clumsily stitched together that you can practically see the seams. A series of vaguely popular horror tropes impractically large and rundown house, family dealing with trauma, old-timey ghosts, secret places, creepy small town, spooky history are essentially Mad-Libbed into something that vaguely resembles a plot if you squint at it. Basically, a half-dozen recent (and far better) horror movies were tossed into a blender; the resulting off-putting slurry is 'The Disappointments Room.'

Director D.J. Caruso doesn't have a particularly impressive filmography, but this one lands with a thud at the bottom of that list. The movie is visually uninteresting, with Caruso seemingly content to rely on lazy filmmaking tricks; every shift is telegraphed and every shot is pedestrian. It's the kind of paint-by-numbers horror that greatly contributes to the genre's less-than-stellar reputation.

The cast doesn't do him any favors, either. Beckinsale is an empty vessel in all the worst ways; she comes off as someone reading every line from a cue card. There's a blankness that makes any sort of connection impossible far from rooting for her, we just want her to hurry up and get off the screen. Raido's not much better, playing some sort of proto-hipster with as grating a New York accent as I've heard in a long time. The interactions between the two are painful to watch. Joiner offers up an unfortunately typical horror-movie kid performance, all big eyes and stilted line reads. Everybody else plays down to the material, including McRaney, who apparently has some pretty serious bills to pay.

'The Disappointments Room' couldn't be more disappointing if it dropped out of medical school and moved back in with its parents. The story is disappointing. The performances are disappointing. The visual aesthetic is disappointing. One thing is for certain it is the most aptly-titled film of 2016, though perhaps not for the intended reason.

[0 out of 5]

Last modified on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 19:37


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