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STUDIO: Genius Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
Four unwitting subjects participate in a psychological test with dire consequences for the losers. A young psychiatrist and her new boss oversee the happenings… and killing happens.
Nick Cannon, Clea Duvall, Timothy Hutton, Chloe Sevigny, Shea Whigham, and Peter “Hungus” Stormare
Four random strangers sign up for volunteer work as subjects in a test they found in the classified ads of a local newspaper. After filling out the required forms, including weird questions about self-preservation, a shocking event will occur that will put these subjects in a cramped environment of psychological manipulation, fear, and survival. Meanwhile, a young psychologist is being recruited to observe and report on this experiment for Dr. Phillips, the head Mofo in charge.
My favorite kind of movie is one in which the viewer is along for the ride, finding out what is happening along with the characters as the story progresses. Total Recall, Memento, and Cube are good recent examples of this type. Much like Cube, this story has the occupants trapped in a confined location, fighting for their lives, with no understanding or rationale behind the situation, and the room, they are in. As the subjects continue to attempt ways of circumventing the experiment, you begin to learn more about the experiment from the bird’s eye view.
Heidi Montag’s latest homework assignment.
The Killing Room is a film with two perspectives, which adds an interesting touch. As we observe the four subjects as they try to figure out how to work together and escape with their lives, we also see the room from the perspective of the new controller, a young psychologist who seems to have a need to either get a good job, or prove herself to something more important. While the subjects are questioning what is happening to them, the young doctor upstairs is beginning to question her position as observer. This gives us someone to relate to, and a hope that somehow somebody may be able to help these poor saps. These two perspectives help the story along, providing tension and exposition, and working together to set up the few surprises at the end.
The actors in the room itself are a combination of young talent and old workhorses. Timothy Hutton plays an ex-con with a history of being a guinea pig, but also a street-smart old pro. Shea Whigham and Clea Duvall roles have simplistic Film 101 development roles which help the story along, but the major hurdle the viewer needs to get over is Nick Cannon, who plays a semi-homeless, borderline schizophrenic, and his acting skills require some forgiving of the viewer. Up in the booth, observing this situation as it unfolds, and providing the story narration and setup, is Chloe Sevigny as the young doctor, and everyone’s favorite nihilist, Peter Stormare as the head of this possibly illegal program. Stormare manages to corral his occasional scene-chewing to provide the exposition for the story, as well as an always-interesting character, if not for what he says, but how he says it.
“Weren’t you in The Faculty? Yeah, you sure played the part well.“
Jonathan Liebesman, director of Darkness Falls, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, and the upcoming Battle: Los Angeles, reveals the action in The Killing Room with a close-quarters feel. He films the room and its inhabitants with a good close eye revealing the stress and tension of the situation. Other than some questionable editing that has actors bouncing around the set during lines, Liebesman creates a sense of urgency and thrill. He shows promise. I look forward to Battle: Los Angeles to see what he can do with a spectacle as opposed to being confined to small spaces.
Mayor Tyler was pleased to finally have physical evidence of the famous criminal spray-painter.
This review is as spoiler free as possible, as it is best not to know too much if you plan on seeing this. There are questions about whether the testing that is occurring is legal or not, and the fact that most of the actors are not ‘stars’ means you really have no idea who is safe. Coupling this with the obscure tests that the remaining subjects have to perform to survive (they don’t call this The Killing Room for nothin’!) leads to a pretty satisfying conclusion. If you decide to watch this, I think you’ll be pleased with the overall production, and it should keep you on the edge of your seat.
Trailer. That’s all you get. Enjoy.
The Russian Grim Reaper.