PICK A GENRE
Film Review by Fiore
For your weekend review, let’s reference at THE BLACK ROOM. It opens on Friday, and is also available on Video On Demand (VOD) and Pay Per View TV (PPV). It is a crooked arrow that misses its mark, suffering from a severe case of identity crisis. THE BLACK ROOM is a horror film, a comedy and an exercise in soft porn all rolled into one. It never grasps one genre by the balls, so to speak, and as such, is unsuccessful in all of them.
Paul and Jennifer Hemdale buy their first house together, despite being a middle-aged couple. These two should never have left the renters’ life. On the first day of their occupation, every utility in the house breaks down. There are several rooms which are locked, and the couple does not have the keys to unlock them. These are items most people know to remedy before the move-in date. The opening reels play like an instructional video on how not to buy real estate.
Of course, the problems with the house emanate from an evil spirit. This one is a sex crazed incubus who seems intent on bringing orgasms to everyone in the world (could you consider that world peace?) and create an infant incubus in the process.
As the house’s utilities sputter, the incubus feeds off the repairmen. It like a roach motel for handymen; they check in, but don’t check out. This is a strong anti-utility repairman theme, suggesting Writer/Director Rolfe Kanefsky recently experienced unsatisfactory home repairs in his personal life. I’m sure we can all identify.
THE BLACK ROOM opens with a scene some twenty years back, which explains how the incubus came to abide in the house. The opening sequence promises erotic horror, with clever special effects on a young girl’s seduction. From the opening sequence, THE BLACK ROOM loses its reason d’etre.
Natasha Henstridge plays Jenny. Henstridge is no stranger to erotic films, but it appears her MAXIMUM RISK and SPECIES days are long behind her. Nearly everyone is nude at some point in THE BLACK ROOM except her. It is admittedly disappointing, as she is still an alluring woman.
Paul is played by Lin Shaye. He appears ready to be the demon foil, until he is possessed by the incubus. At this point, Shaye mimics Bruce Campbell in actions and expressions. The ploy is obvious, and takes away most of the film’s horror aspects. Double entendres fill the dialogue, and THE BLACK ROOM slips into appalling parody. Starring with Henstridge and Shaye are Dominique Swain, Lukas Hassel, James Duval and Auggie Duke.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE OPENING FURNACE SEQUENCE
2. KAREN’S FREUDIAN DEMISE
Like so many independent films today, THE BLACK ROOM delivers an unconventional moral, blaming women for the release of evil into the world, or in this case, the house. Kanefsky, realizing his film was adrift, attempts to bring back the horror element with graphic SFX, including a cellar room which becomes a living womb. However, when you have a death by Freudian reverse fellatio, and an ejaculating washing machine (yes, you read that correctly), it’s difficult to take any of this seriously.
Let’s take a look at the report card for THE BLACK ROOM:
1.2 ACTING = C
1.3 CINEMATOGRAPHY = C
1.4 SOUND/MUSIC = C
1.5 EDITING = B
1.6 LIGHTING = C
1.7 SCIPRT = F
1.8 SFX = D
1.9 ACTION = C
If THE BLACK ROOM focused on one genre, it would be a better film. In trying to cover three styles, it flubs each, making the endeavor largely forgettable. The film’s conclusion is reminiscent of many early Chinese films; the ending sequence bears no logic from the previous action and conflict. The movie should be viewed at home with a plethora of good friends, and adult beverages. Prepare to laugh and scream at the screen.