Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Disappointments Room


Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Duncan Joiner, Lucas Till

Rated R for Violent Content, Bloody Images, Some Sexuality and Language

"The Disappointments Room" appears to have been made from two different scripts fused together.  Part ghost story and part psychodrama, the film suffers from radical changes in tone and jarring editing gaffes.  In this case, the two often go hand in hand.

Dana (Beckinsale) and David (Raido) are moving to the country with their son Lucas (Joiner).  They've suffered a family tragedy (duh) and think that what they need is a fresh start.  Dana is an architect and David is a businessman, they're looking forward to restoring a huge mansion they just bought.  But then Dana finds an old room not shown in any of the blueprints, and she starts seeing things.  Is she hallucinating, or is she really being haunted?

This isn't a movie where it was a bad idea right from the start.  No, this had potential.  With a more confident director and a less schizophrenic screenplay, it could have worked.  But director D.J. Caruso is unable to wed the two stories together into a satisfying whole.  The psychological stuff is good material, although not standout.  But the ghost story feels shoehorned in by nervous studio executives or an exploitation director.  Scenes appear to be missing entirely and the film fails to link the two in any convincing way, leading to a lot of head-scratching.

I have to ask: what is Kate Beckinsale doing in this movie?  The highly talented British actress is too good for this material, and with the "Underworld" movies I doubt she needs the money.  She is, however, the saving grace.  Without her, this movie would be on my Bottom 10 list.  Her co-stars, Mel Raido and Duncan Joiner, do little to help her.  Raido is sickeningly sweet and Joiner is sickeningly cute.  They're not human beings; they exist to provide sanity/scares for Beckinsale.  Of the other cast members, only Celia Weston and tiny Marcia De Rousse stick out.  They're lively and energetic, but neither has much screen time.

It's hard to know who this movie was intended for.  Horror fans will be bored while those looking for a serious drama will be annoyed by the ghost story clich├ęs.  This is probably why the studio released it in September since it would have gotten lost in the summer blitz.  Not that that is going to make much difference.  This movie arrived DOA and will be forgotten about by the time the month is over.

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