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Film Review: The Black Room (2016)

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SYNOPSIS:

PAUL and JENNIFER HEMDALE have just moved into their dream house. But their happy marriage is about to be put to the test as they slowly discover the secret behind the black room in the cellar. Something else is already living in their new home and it is growing stronger every day. It has claimed many victims including the last owners of the house.

Repairmen who journey down into the basement soon meet a horrible end. When Paul is taken over by this demonic entity, it is no longer trapped within the walls and is quick to take advantage of all pleasures of the flesh. Jennifer and her younger sister KAREN begin to suspect that something is wrong with Paul. Karen finds out the truth a hard and painful way, leaving Jennifer alone to fight the demonic entity that has possessed her husband and threatens to destroy her very soul. And Paul is not the only one transforming as Jennifer soon discovers that the black room is not only evil but alive as well and may not be able to be stopped!

REVIEW:

When I first started watching this movie and saw that the movie was directed by Rolfe Kanefsky, I started laughing. Kanefsky made a movie called The Hazing (also known as Dead Scared), that I enjoyed. However, he’s gone on to make a lot of movies that fall right into the soft core porn genre. Having the read the synopsis for this flick, it made a strange kind of sense that a man that has made installments to the never ending Emmanuelle series would end up making a flick that involved a lust demon. The question I had was: Would this movie be as fun as The Hazing?

The Black Room is the story Paul and Jennifer Hemdale. They’re newlyweds who just bought a house that had been the scene of a mysterious event that led to one person disappearing and the other person getting charbroiled by the basement furnace. Shortly after they move in, strange events start to take place. Both are experience strange sexually charged incidents while completely alone. However, things take a sinister turn when Paul finds his way into a mysterious room in their basement and emerges completely possessed by an incubus. The demonic entity then begins fulfilling a plan that could put all of humanity in jeopardy.

After I finished the flick, I was confused by what it was trying to be. This movie was tonally all over the place. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a horror-comedy or just a straight up horror movie, but my befuddlement has much to do with the fact that the movie does neither well. When the demon takes Paul over, it looks like it’s trying to add a bit of comedy through his one-liners, but actor Luke Hassel lacks the ability to pull it off. His delivery is absolutely flat. It doesn’t help that the dialogue provided is pretty bad to begin with. Another thing that makes the flick’s tone seem out of place was the opening score. Evoking neither horror nor comedy, it sounded like something that belonged to a ‘70s cop show. It was out of place, but at the same time, seemed to be a warning of how discordant the finished product will be.

The idea of watching a lust demon in human form sexually harassing people is not exactly a funny concept, so anyone wanting to make any kind of comedy about that is already fighting an uphill battle. In today’s day and time, the subject matters of molestation and harassment are a very touchy subjects, so I’m surprised that someone would try to add comedic elements to them. Maybe in the hands of a better writer and director it could have worked, but here it’s just uncomfortable. Scenes like Jennifer (Natasha Henstridge) getting felt up by the entity while taking a bath, or be affected by the demon’s power to the point that she starts dry humping her washing machine really wasn’t all that exciting or chuckle-worthy.

I also found myself feeling kind of bad for Natasha Henstridge. After she starred in the movie Species, she became a hot Hollywood commodity. However, as quickly as she became a star her career just plummeted. I’m not saying she’s a great actress, but I can’t help but wonder what it’s like to have gone from headlining movies with some of the industry’s top stars to starring in a Rolfe Kanefsky flick.

Despite lackluster performances and a shoddy script, there is a bright spot to the movie. Kanefsky did have a talented special effects team working with him. While the few times CGI used was noticeable and looked kind of terrible, the practical effects looked great. We had some good gore shots, and the make-up work was pretty great. These aspects of the flick at least made it a little fun to sit through.

In regards to the question I asked near the beginning of this review, the Black Room isn’t nearly as fun or enjoyable as The Hazing. It’s not scary enough to be horror and it’s not funny enough to be comedy. If it does make you laugh, it’ll be for the wrong reasons. It’s filled with poor acting and some bad dialogue. The wonderful practical effects are wasted here. Stick a fork in this turkey, it’s done. Not recommended.

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