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The Dead Room (2015)

April 12, 2016

deadroom3It isn’t too often that I get shaken up by a horror film these days, but when I do it’s an embarrassing hot mess. Each creak of wood settling in my house becomes the sound of a dormant spirit ready to exact revenge. Clanks and bangs from my dishwasher are just sinister noises that are obviously a ghost trying to communicate with me. Sometimes if a film is effective enough I can’t even manage my way to the bathroom without the assistance of every light in my path for the uncertainty that something will be lurking in the shadows. It takes a lot to truly scare me, but I can always appreciate a good chill. The Dead Room delivered a modest shiver that made me debate whether the walk to the unlit back of my house for the restroom was worth it as opposed to just waiting it out until my next destination so that I could find comfort and security in my car.

The Dead Room may not be beaming example of an exceptional horror film, but it’s a fascinating, entertaining one. By taking an age-old concept and revisiting it in a unique way, The Dead Room prompts chills and hits unexpected curves producing a thrilling, refreshing tale of the paranormal. The Dead Room doesn’t extract itself from the genre of horror so it employs the same tropes as past horror films of its nature. Yet, when three ghost hunters enter into a house to prove, or rather disprove, its inhabitancy of ghosts using technologically and skepticism the bumps in the night become all the more shaking, quite literally.

Jason Stutter sets the backdrop of the terrifying abode among a luscious surfeit of tree laden mountains capped in rock and snow. The Dead Room opens to beautiful establishing shots highlighting the grandeur of New Zealand before it takes a disparaging nosedive into visually clunky CGI background moments once at the cabin. Nevertheless, Stutter bares his skill allowing the camera to dance around objects and characters throughout the cabin setting a chillingly ominous tone and keeping viewers unsure if the camera serves as an innocent bystander or a ghostly presence.

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Stutter and Kevin Stevens’ script lends itself to a clever tale that naturally progresses the situational horror the ghost hunters find themselves in. As each night gets spookier for the trio they continue to stay in the house at the behest of the more scientifically fixated professor Scott (Jeffery Thomas), a professor hell bent on using science to dispute claims of ghosts while also using his stay to work on a thesis for sound displacement of matter. Scott continually plays devil’s advocate to his two frightened and rationally minded partners Holly (Laura Petersen) and Liam (Jed Brophy) persuading them to stay longer by assuring them that their mere presence is contributing to changing the world and the way that paranormal investigations are done.

By the second act of the film, the action gets revved up creating an unsettling atmosphere and an intriguing twist although its final act errs on the side of convoluted and messy. The Dead Room calls to mind past horror films like The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity, and The Haunting. It encompasses elements from all of these films and then some but is able to add its own flair and suspense instead of being a carbon copy of its contemporaries. Overall, The Dead Room manages to maintain itself as an entertaining horror film with a short enough run time making it easily digestible and enjoyable.

Out now on DVD, Video on Demand, and Select Theaters.

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