15 – 86mins – 2016
THE HORRORS OF NOBILITY
In 2013 Prison Break star Wentworth Miller established himself as a talent behind the camera as well as in front of it when he penned acclaimed cult indie drama Stoker. A year later he co-scribed this promisingly premised supernatural horror with xXx: Return of Xander Cage director D.J. Caruso.
Sadly, production company Relativity Media’s bankruptcy woes meant The Disappointments Room was shelved for two years before a muted silver screen release in the US courtesy of subsidiary company Rogue last September. Damning reviews lead to a disastrous box office take, giving TDR the dubious ‘honour’ of overtaking renowned flop Gigli as the largest third week cinema drop-off in history. Consequently, a Blu-ray release was canned in favour of standard DVD.
So, is this Kate Beckinsale headliner really that dire? No, of course not. However, it does have some rather damning flaws, with a heavy reliance on trite genre conventions (bats in cupboards, lights switching on and off by themselves, a convenient box of old photographs, etcetera) favoured over originality. There are noble attempts to parallel a grieving mother’s depression with an unearthed mystery locked away in a dilapidated property, but the promise is squandered and the story feels unresolved by the time the credits prematurely crawl.
Underworld arse-kicker Beckinsale plays medicated matriarch Dana, who is moving with her husband (Mel Raido) and young son (Duncan Joiner) from the hustle of Brooklyn to a large manor house in the sticks for the chance of a new beginning following a family tragedy. But is Dana’s paranoia about a secret room hidden behind a wardrobe in their new attic justified, or worrying signs of a relapse?
“Where’s the Lion and the Witch?”
There are flashes of potential buried away in the occasionally spunky dialogue, as well as an exerted attempt to complicate Dana’s troubled character with an overprotective flare and wariness of outsiders. Alas, similar attempts to add a third dimension to laddish roofer Ben (Lucas Monster Trucks Till) just leave him coming off as a disrespectful arrogant jerk.
Tragically, the clue is in the film’s title (they really were setting themselves up for a fall with that one!) with the rich colours of the day time scenes replaced with a near-indecipherable and tension-zapping darkness at night. There is also a gnawing sense that the simple story is plodding through the motions and lacking a killer punch. For instance, it takes 45-minutes for the titular room to even be named and I often felt like the distressed characters were struggling to keep up with what we, the viewers, already knew.
CR@B’s Claw Score: