31 Days of Halloween — Day 17: The Dead Room (2015) — by Dr. Shock

deadroomEditor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

The Dead Room, a 2015 supernatural thriller from New Zealand, is a perfectly adequate ghost story, with a number of creepy scenes and a surprise-laden finale that wraps things up nicely. But for years now, the horror genre has been inundated with “adequate” supernatural thrillers, and therein lies the problem: The Dead Room does what it sets out to do, and nothing more. It is not a movie that will linger long in your mind.
When a family claims that a ghost has driven them from their home, the insurance company sends in a trio of paranormal investigators: Scott (Jeffrey Thomas), Liam (Jed Brophy) and Holly (Laura Petersen), to see if the house is, indeed, haunted. To their surprise, it actually is: at 3 a.m. every morning, a spirit walks up and down the dwelling’s long hallway, opening doors and knocking into low-hanging chandeliers.

Holly, who has a sixth sense, is the only one who can see this entity, which she describes as a very tall, very angry man who doesn’t seem to want them there. In fact, each successive night that they remain in the house, the ghost’s behavior becomes more erratic. Following a particularly spooky encounter, Liam and Holly decide it’s time to leave, but are talked into staying one more night by Scott, who believes he’s developed an electronic device that, when switched on, is powerful enough to eliminate any nearby spirits. But as the three will soon discover, trying to get rid of a ghost can sometimes be more dangerous than living with one.

Like a good many supernatural films, The Dead Room relies on such time-honored effects as self-opening doors and footsteps to get its audience’s pulse pounding. And, to be fair, this approach is marginally successful in the early scenes (the second evening there, the trio is awakened by a loud thump that shakes the entire house, which is as jarring to us as it is to them). To add to the mystery, Holly and the others find that the ghost refuses to enter the back room, making it the house’s lone safe haven while also raising the question as to why it avoids this area.

Unfortunately, the malevolent spirit remains invisible throughout; each night, Holly has to tell the others where it is in the room, and what its attitude is (based on what she’s saying, this is one pissed-off ghost). And while the attacks do become more intense as the days drag on, there’s never a moment when we feel the main characters are in any sort of real danger. Things do change in the final 10 minutes, but before then, the scares in The Dead Room are, for the most part, generic.

Over the past five years, a number of supernatural thrillers have managed to distinguish themselves from the rest, including The Conjuring, The Innkeepers, and Insidious, just to name a few. Even if you don’t count yourself as a fan of these films, at the very least you remember them. Though competently made and sporadically chilling, The Dead Room will not leave a lasting impression, and six months later, when someone asks if you’ve seen it, you’ll have to think for a moment to recall whether or not you did.

— Dr. Shock

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5 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 17: The Dead Room (2015) — by Dr. Shock


    Day 17 – Happy Birthday (2016)

    While it will hardly win any awards due to it’s originality, I liked the initial premise for Happy Birthday. By this point in time, young people traveling to another country and finding horror should be it’s own sub-genre. It plays into a basic fear of the fear of the unknown. Sure, your home area has it’s own dangers, but that other place that you’re unfamiliar with? Yeah, that’s a place that you’re certain to find danger because you don’t have the safety of feeling as if you’re on your home territory. Part of the fun of such films as Hostel and Turistas is that the viewer didn’t know who the main characters could trust. In Happy Birthday, you know that from the moment the two friends head to Mexico, someone is going to be revealed as being untrustworthy and will betray the two Americans as the horror portion begins. The big question in the early going is which person is going to be the antagonist? In Happy Birthday, we’re introduced to several characters in Mexico and with each one, the viewer is left to wonder if this character is going to be the one or not.

    Once the party aspect of the film ended and the horror kicked in, I found everything picked up. Although nothing gory or overly disturbing happens, it’s pure hell for the main character of Brady. There’s the fear of his friend being killed, the horror that comes from the idea of being sexually assaulted, a messed up scene with hungry chickens, falling into a bed of thumbtacks, listening to the same song on a loop for days, and non-stop stress. Even if Brady somehow escapes and survives this ordeal, you know that this poor guy is forever going to be mentally destroyed. It never goes quite into torture porn levels physically, but it certainly does mentally. I love all of that.

    The problem with the film is the final act of the film. It was bad enough when they revealed it was a prank gone wrong, but it was made even worse when a second prank was revealed in that the first prank always went as planned. I hate it. It’s pure garbage. You’re being conned by the same trick twice in a row and it wasn’t even a rewarding trick the first time around. The double prank also made the whole thing seem unbelievable. How could Brady possibly be so cool with his buddy and everyone else that was involved in the weekend from hell? Where’s the fun in originally thinking your best friend was killed and you had accidentally shot and killed a girl? Somehow, there’s even now a potential love story blossoming between Brady and one of the actresses? Bullshit. Brady should be forever messed up and should want nothing to do with anyone involved in this sick prank. Furthermore, if you want to see this sort of story play out, there’s a certain Michael Douglas film that was so much better than this movie.

    The more I think about Happy Birthday, the more annoyed I am with it. The basic idea of it all is a type of sub-genre that I tend to enjoy in horror. There’s some really good heart in the film with the examination of father and son relationships that without the double prank, it could have ended the film on a strong point. Instead, the double prank takes place and it killed my interest in Happy Birthday. I can’t say I have a problem with a movie like April Fool’s Day partially because it was a fresh idea when it first came out and they didn’t bother doing a second prank minutes after the first. Since so much of the middle portion of the film comes very close to feeling like a torture porn flick, I doubt many would have interest in seeing this as some sort of party film. So it’s a disappointment as a horror and doesn’t work as a non-horror. I suppose if you’re a big Areosmith or Steven Tyler fan, check out Happy Birthday for Tyler having a small role as a pretty wacky character.

    Rating: 5/10

  2. Day 17 – Rocky Horror Picture Show

    I don’t really feel comfortable about discussing this movie much. Basically this movie is all Tim Curry for me. I enjoyed his charisma, singing voice, and the character he created. Overall, it’s not a movie for me. Because even though I am a musical lover, I didn’t particularly care for much of the music in this film. It’s from that ear of 70s rock opera that I really never identified with. Through persistent listening I grew to enjoy some Meatloaf and some of the material he later wrote in collaboration with Bonnie Tyler, I just didn’t really jive with it stylistically. It’s interesting to see some transgender and homosexual things being explored in the 80s, and I especially found Tim Curry’s seduction and sex with Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick to be extremely funny. Unfortunately I think this film would be better enjoyed at a sing along, a live performance, or drunk as hell. I watched it by my lonesome completely sober on my couch, and because of this it was…. kind of a chore. Not for me, but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. I’m not going to rate it, but I will say that it’s not a horror film in the slightest. There’s a dark stormy night, a creepy castle, and a coffin at one point, but ultimately this doesn’t make a horror film. It seems to be a Halloween favorite simply because the word “horror” is in the title.

  3. Day 17: Train to Busan (2016)

    Rating: 10/10 (must see!/buy it)

    Note: This film is like a perfect mix of World War Z (quick-changing, fast, swarming zombies), The Walking Dead (character development) and Snowpiercer (train). And while its high-octane fun is definitely a main draw, the character development is what makes this a special film.

    — — — — — Contains spoilers — — — — —

    What I liked:
    – This movie wastes very little time getting started, so make sure you buckle up once the opening credits roll; WOW!
    – It’s difficult to see how it can maintain the plot for the duration of the film, but it works through small changes of scenery and pace.
    – The film manages to fully flesh out the main characters amidst the chaos and action.
    – This is a complete film.

    What I didn’t like:
    – There were a couple moments of less-than-perfect action-CGI, but it’s never so bad that it ruins the moment.

  4. Day 17: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
    Rating: 8/10

    A mockumentary film that follows a soon-to-be serial killer, Leslie Vernon. The mockumentary film crew may be in over their heads. This is a fun movie that always goes over well when I play it for friends.

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