WARNING! This post contains extensive spoilers for this movie. Watch the movie before reading! Or don't. You have been warned.
For my thoughts on this movie, check out Solange's post on SoloRien.wordpress.com
The Dead Room (2016)
: N/A critics, 23% audience
We watched on Netflix.
An original work by Solange
IMDB’s description: “When a terrified family flees a desolate southern New Zealand farmhouse, two cynical scientists and a young psychic are sent to investigate their claims of a haunting. There they encounter a powerful spirit that will protect the house's secrets at all costs.”
To set the scene a bit, we watched this movie in the evening, with a full moon hanging over the river. It was dimly lit. I was sick, and Solee was exhausted. I guess we were ready to hit The Dead Room!
Mikey: I think our views on this movie differed more than the usual. Not a fan of the psychic in shortie shorts?
Solee: I was pretty “meh” about the whole film right up until the end, at which point it just became disappointing. I thought her short shorts and thigh high socks were a little silly, yes. She can wear whatever she is comfortable in, but I’d probably wear something with a higher protective value.
Mikey: Hey, ghosts don't shoot guns, we don't need kevlar. We’ve now watched houses haunted in two ways: an invisible ghost in a normal movie, and a visible one in found footage. What’s better?
Solee: I preferred the invisible ghost, actually. I think once a ghost is visible, some of the mystery has gone out of it. Allowing the viewer to imagine their scariest ghost is infinitely scarier than committing to a specific CGI effect.
Mikey: That is always the way. Okay, the “tech guy” in this looked like Ryan Stiles. Would this movie have been better if it were Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady, and Colin Mochrie as the ghost hunters? What are some key differences?
Solee: Heck, yeah! I would watch the “Who’s Line” cast redo that movie in a heartbeat! Wayne Brady would make a terrific singing psychic and I’m sure Colin Mochrie would have no trouble with the pompous scientist character. Cheesy horror with a sense of humor is always better than cheesy, taking-itself-seriously horror.
Mikey: I have to admit that would be awesome. Not just a ghost movie, but them literally performing this exact movie for us. So what was the deal with the room of flies? Did you ever notice that door being opened again? Was it just a red herring?
Solee: Oh, this movie… it was just chock full of unfulfilled promises! The room full of flies that suddenly disappeared. The baby crib that was never explained or utilized. The dreamcatcher. The… well, I don’t remember what else, but I know the first act was full of pistols that were never used to shoot anyone in the third act. This is a high crime in writing and I was offended by it.
Mikey: Okay, it's half time! Do you feel like you understand what’s happening at this point? Do you feel like you know where the movie is going? If so, how confident are you in your predictions?
Solee: I feel like I understood the gist of the story. Family is scared away mid-dinner by a ghost (which only appeared at precisely 3 am at any point in the movie… why was this family eating dinner at 3 am??), insurance company hires ghost hunters to prove the ghosts don’t exists (because, I guess, there is some insurance payout in New Zealand for haunted houses?), ghost hunters discover ghost and decide to deal with it. Pretty basic, really. I figure the ghost will prove to be hardier than they expect, doing some damage, and then they will chase it off with the pseudo-science the skeptic character was spouting. I’m expecting to learn backstory along the way that explains the room (ahem… the Dead Room?) that clearly has a dead body in it (soooo many flies) and includes something sad about a baby. :( I’m 75% confident that I know, roughly, how this will play out.
Mikey: So confident... The movie's over now, so how right or wrong were you about your predictions?
Solee: I was right about how things would pan out. I was very wrong about the backstory. They told us nothing. I find that disappointing, because the whole point of a ghost story is the psychology of why there’s an angry ghost in the first place.
Mikey: Right, this movie didn’t offer any explanation for its ghosts, so now that’s your job. What’s the backstory?
Solee: Well, since there was nothing to indicate that the ghosts were connected to the family they ran off, I’m going to say that they have been in the house for a long time. Based on the outfit, I’d say sometime in the 1800s, the woman was kidnapped by a couple of Really Bad Dudes. They did Really Bad Things to her and drove her mad. The police and a number of the farmers from the area spent a long time searching for her. One of the farmers helping with the search was her fiance, a big burly guy with a heart of gold who loved her very much. The police surrounded the house where the Really Bad Dudes were holding the woman. Frightened, they killed her, but not until her lover heard her screaming for help. He ran into the house in a failed attempt to save her and was also killed by the Really Bad Dudes. The ghost of the madwoman, unable to differentiate between those who hurt her and those who were trying to help her, became extremely dangerous and the ghost of her lover remained by her side, soothing her and driving away all who might fall victim to her misplaced rage. At least, until the ghost hunters expelled him from this realm.
Mikey: Wow, that is a big improvement. I still feel it's not enough to justify what she was like, but I'll take it. Were you scared at any point?
Solee: Not being able to see the ghost through the majority of the film was definitely unsettling. I was primed for jump scares much of the movie but I’m not sure that I was every really truly surprised by anything. I certainly didn’t feel all that attached to the characters. It was obvious that they were going to be ghost fodder, and frankly none of them were all that likeable, so I wasn’t really scared of the emotional impact of them getting eaten.
Mikey: You have three areas to consider in this movie: Writing, Directing (including editing, music and cinematography), and Acting. Which was good, which was bad, and which was ugly? It’s okay if you want to re-use good/bad/ugly.
Solee: Writing - Ugly
Directing - Good
Acting - Bad
I’m going to give directing the Good because I liked the way the invisible ghost affected things in the house. The banging doors, jangling light fixtures, etc were creepy and well done. There are several examples of hauntingly pretty shots of the hallway and the front door. The acting gets the Bad because they weren’t able to make me feel like they were real people. If I’m constantly thinking “Yep, that’s what the skeptic would say now” or “No, the psychic wouldn’t react like that” then you’ve failed to make your character more than a stereotype. The Ugly goes to the writing because it’s almost as though there were no writing. They probably could have gotten the exact same movie if the director took a few people who were familiar with the ghost story genre, put them in a creepy house and said, “Pretend there’s a ghost in there with you.”
Mikey: I think that's probably true, actually. I'd kind of like to see that improv movie (or better yet the one we talked about above). Anyway, here's the game: You have no control over the entire movie… except the very ending. What would you change about the climax to make it better? What’d they do wrong?
Solee: No question, I would put some backstory in there. I would explain why the woman was tied up in the basement to die. I would explain why her ghost was so angry and why the other ghost was protecting people from her. There’s so much potential there and it’s sad to see it wasted. The ending was nothing more than jump scares, frantic running, and people being dragged off.
Mikey: Finally, how would you rate this movie? Since you don’t really care for horror movies, let me phrase it this way: what is the most unpleasant thing you would rather have done than watch the movie?
Solee: I give this movie 2 out of 5. If there had been an actual story it would have gotten a 3. If the acting had been even a tiny big worse, it would have gotten a 1.
That being said, it wasn’t all that arduous to watch. I would rather change and wash all the linens in the house that watch this movie.
Mikey: Wow, I think it'd have to be pretty horrifying (like a Hugh Grant romantic comedy) to do that kind of damage to me personally.
Tomorrow, we will be reviewing Shadow Puppets
, so come back and check it out. If you missed the earlier link, you can find Solee's interview of me at SoloRien.wordpress.com