Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Black Room (2017)

DIRECTOR: Rolfe Kanefsky

WRITER: Rolfe Kanefsky


Natasha Henstridge
Lin Shaye
Dominique Swain
Lukas Hassel
Caleb Scott
James Duval
Augie Duke
Tiffany Shepis
Victoria De Mare
Elissa Dowling
Alex Rinehart


Paul and Jennifer have just moved into their new dream house. They are incredibly happy to be starting their lives anew. Their marriage is put to the test when Paul is possessed by a demon that he has summoned when he enters the black door in the cellar. The house has a pretty dark history, and the previous owners had disappeared without a trace. Jennifer and Paul need to find a way to eradicate the demon before it's too late and they suffer the same fate.

Looking at the cast list for The Black Room, I was excited to watch this horror movie. With genre favourites such as Lin Shaye, Natasha Henstridge, and Tiffany Shepis, this had already sold on giving this a shot. Add nineties indie heartthrob James Duval, and the underrated Dominique Swain who made a splash back in the early naughties with a range of great roles and my hype for this unknown little horror film was at a high. I was excited to see what this was all about.

If you've ever witnessed Scary Movie 2, there is one scene in that movie where Tori Spelling has sex with a ghost. It's a pretty hilarious scene when you remember that Tori Spelling was one of the it girls of the nineties and starred in Beverly Hills 90210 to suddenly reappear in a scene where she blows a ghost. So the Black Room begins with a scene that felt very similar to that film. A ghost sexually molests a woman but takes it that one step further by tweaking her nipples, where she ends up covered in ghostly goo. It's a scene that I wasn't expecting so I was unprepared.

From the opening scene, it was clear to me that I wasn't getting a straight up horror film. Looking at the poster for this one, I thought I was going into this darker, metal, occult-based horror film. After The Devil's Candy and A Dark Song, I could honestly be forgiven for jumping to that conclusion with The Black Room. What is evident for me almost immediately is that director Rolfe Kanefsky is playing things for laughs, if he isn't, I was a lot more amused than horrified by the events depicted in this film.

Watching The Black Room, I can see that Rolfe Kanefsky is a horror fan. I see a lot of influences from other movies in this one. We have a few moments where he uses the 'Evil Dead' demon POV fast camera technique. We even get a Wishmaster type scene where the demon puts a waitresses boobs on her back when she rejects this demon. The demon here also looks like a cross between the devil and the Wishmaster djinn. The final scene where we see all the victims of this demon feels very reminiscent of Society. I think the biggest influence is Sam Raimi's Evil Dead.

Visually, I think the movie leaves a lot to be desired. This is effects heavy for a very low budget movie. They try to get the most out of the visuals with what they have, and while it looks fake, I can't hate on them for giving this a shot. The makeup and gore effects are where I was left most disappointed. A lot of the gore plays incredibly cheap, and it took me out of the film. I think some may find that this gives the movie charm. I think it will have people laughing at how shoddy it looks. Sadly, a lot of the gore is shown in quick cuts and clever tricks, this is probably used to disguise all of the movie's shortcomings.

Further issues that I had with The Black Room was the ending. The movie really isn't all that cohesive with its story. We are aware that a ritual happened in the house and something was summoned. However, our couple is never really told or given much in the way of defeating the demon, no research is shown. They just happen to have the artifact they need chucked at them and use it to defeat it. It's all rather poorly set up and executed. A whole lot of scenes of a sexual nature are stringed together with a paper-thin plot.

The movie gets points for being pretty entertaining. I've mentioned I wasn't a fan of the visual effects, the gore or the plot. The film isn't scary at all or has any solid jump scares. But I won't fault the movie on an entertainment level. I think this falls into the category of so bad it's almost good. I will say that I was never bored. Silly and sexual is what this movie goes for and for that, I'll throw it a few points. I think if anything, it looks like the entire cast is having a ball and their tongues firmly placed in cheek.

Lastly, the acting is as you'd expect. Natasha Henstridge as our lead looks like she's having a lot of fun with her role. As does Lukas Hassel who plays Paul, her husband and is possessed by a sexual demon. He gets to deliver the most cheese. What can be said about the great Lin Shaye? She is amazing as always. She always gives her performances one hundred percent. Both Dominique Swain and James Duval really are sadly underused in their roles. Tiffany Shepis also comes in for a small role which was nice to see. I think those last three are underused but seeing them on the screen put a smile on my face.



- A woman is molested by a ghost.
- Tentacles suck out people's guts.
- Someone is stabbed in the stomach.
- A woman's jaw is shown hanging off.
- Someone falls down the stairs and hits their head.
- A woman's boobs are moved onto her back.
- A man is struck by bolts of lightning.
- Someone's fingers are sliced off.
- A man's cock is ripped off.
- A group of worshippers die during a ritual.
- A demon drags an electrician off into a closet.
- Lots of ghostly figures covered in blood.
- A woman is raped by a demon.
- Two people's throats are ripped out.
- A woman is penetrated by a tentacle.
- A man's face is smashed repeatedly in a washing machine door.
- A woman is shown holding a severed head.

The Black Room comes across as heavily inspired by the Evil Dead films. I see a lot of influence from other, more famous horror films. It's much heavier on the comedy than it is the horror and for that, it's pretty entertaining at times. The movie is low budget, and it shows. We have some poorly done visual effects and gory makeup which took me out of the movie. Go in expecting some silly sexual possession, and you may end up enjoying this film more than I did. Not a complete waste and may make a good drinking game one day.

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