November 16, 2016

The Disappointments Room (2016)

"A mother and her young son release unimaginable horrors from the attic of their rural dream home."

I'm going to address the elephant in the room straight away: "The Disappointments Room" is aptly named. Everyone can now sit back smugly and chuckle, because saying that is about as obvious and predictable as everything else in this ghostie movie.

It's such a shame when a movie like this fails to deliver, especially as everything was in place for it to be good. The North Carolina location is fantastic, Kate Beckinsale in a blonde wig is still as beautiful as ever, and there's even a cat in the story. Unfortunately, "The Disappointments Room" contains nothing which hasn't been done before, or more importantly, done better.

If you can't guess how "The Disappointments Room" is going to go after the first ten minutes, either you haven't seen enough horror movies (which is possibly a good thing) or you haven't realised the formulaic nature of just about every "ghosts and hauntings" movie ever made. You can be sure that director D.J. Caruso and his co-writer Wentworth Miller have seen everything though, and they've thrown as many tropes as they could into this in arguably not the best manner. Having said that, there are some good moments among the unoriginality, but even then, they aren't great.

Acting-wise, it's okay. Kate Beckinsale seems to have become the Belén Rueda of American horror, and will probably continue in the same vein for years to come. She's always technically been a MILF, but now she's playing one as part of the plot, and there's nothing wrong with that. Her supporting cast, because let's keep it real here, don't have much to do or very much screen time, but they are perfectly acceptable. The storytelling is a bit rushed, and it's that element more than any other which makes "The Disappointments Room" into more of a generic product than something you would want in your collection.

Gerald McRaney's role is woefully small but important, but hey, it's not the size but what you do with it, right? Fortunately, a potentially annoying child in the form of Duncan Joiner playing Lucas is also nipped in the bud early on. The latter has an encounter which is so obviously cribbed from "The Shining" that of course it works, and he's not such an irritating little piss afterwards.

"Bones" fans will spot Michaela Conlin for a few seconds with no discernable lines of dialogue, but who cares? She's in it, it's another IMDb credit, and the point of her character is made. For those who might blink and miss it, Lucas Till's character Ben pretty much nails why the rich, middle-aged "yuppies" have moved to the countryside anyway in a buzzkill, quasi "meta-cinema" line which isn't wasted at all. Some slight socio-political commentary there, maybe? On the plus side, maybe not.

If you want to see more original (although still highly formulaic) stories in the "ghosts/haunted house with a mystery" subgenre, you can choose from "The Uninvited" (1944), "The Haunted" (1963), "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" (1973), "Burnt Offerings" (1976), "The Haunting Passion" (1983), "The Haunting of Seacliff Inn" (1994), "House of the Damned" (1996), "The Others" (2001), "Penny Dreadful" (2005), "The Orphanage" (2007), "The Abandoned" (2015), and literally hundreds if not thousands more. There's even enough of the "architects renovating a building and setting ghosts loose" movies that they have become yet another subgenre in their own right. One that springs to mind from only a couple of years ago, "Altar" (2014), was almost the same story as this but set in a windswept manor in Northern England.

If you're a Kate Beckinsale fan, you'll love her in "The Disappointments Room". If you're a ghost story fan, you'll watch this anyway for completeness. But if you're looking for originality, something like this (or anything recent in the whole horror genre) is not for you.

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