Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Killing Room

The Killing Room 2009
Director: Jonathon Liebsman
Writers: Gus Krieger and Ann Peacock
Starring Chloe Sevigny, Peter Stormare, Timothy Hutton, Clea Duvall, Nick Cannon and Shea Whigham

The Killing Room is yet another variation on the Saw and Cube type of locked room horror film, but unlike a lot of it's wannabes, this is one is executed perfectly. It has a great conceit, with a great script, director and a exemplary cast. It really makes you think and the film definitely has some shocking moments in the film. Liebsman is really blossoming into a great genre director, his first film Darkness Falls had a great idea but was ultimately flawed and from that he went on to Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, which is the far superior of the modern entire in that series. I aloes think the film is really helped by the anchor of Stormare as the main heavy and he always brings his A game to anything he does. This is a film that you discover more with each repeated viewing and it actually benefits the locked room genre rather than detract from it.
The plot basics are this, four disparate people meet in a stark white room. They have all agreed to be part of some psychological testing for monetary gain. They are all given a large questionnaire to gauge their psychological insight. Once they finish it the one in charge of the test, Dr. Phillips (Stormare) tells them that they will go through a rigorous series of psychological tests. He wants them to all come up with the same answer or there will be dire consequences. Phillips watches this all with rapt attention while boning up a new military scientist (Sevigny) on what he wants to achieve here. She is unsure what to make of his diabolical plans and has a crisis of conscience if she should go along with it or put an end to the charade. While the beleaguered people in the room are trying to work together and all survive intact. But, will that work or are they all doomed to failure?
This is a tense and tightly woven film. Liebsman direction is very claustrophobic and intense. He sets up the stage for what is to happen and then pulls the rug out from the viewer effortlessly. The script is very taut as well, you get feelings for all the characters and actually sympathize with most of them. There are many twists in the films that are shocking but really work well in the context of the film. The cast is great, Stormare is the high point of the film. He just exudes the oily used car salesman persona in this role and he is delightfully maniacal. Chloe Sevigny is great as the scientist who has moral dilemmas about what is happening right in front of her. What was really surprising was the great performance that Nick Cannon gave, this is miles above his horrible performance in the Day of the Dead remake. I did not even recognize him, he fit into his role that well. The SFX in the film is very good too, there is not a lot but what is displayed is used very well. This was a great film in the vein of Saw and Cube, but different enough to be it's own beast.
This one gets 5 out of 5

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