“DarkRoom” (2013)

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By Jerome Reuter

Torture, mutilation, cults, and imprisonment, these are all things you’ll find in Darkroom, the directorial debut of Britt Napier. I feel it’s a work that had potential to good, and fell short of its intended mark. That’s not to say it’s a waste of time, at moments it hits hard, and does a good job at keeping you interested.

The focus of our story is the imprisonment of a young girl by a trio of bizarre siblings. They’re focused on her confessing her ‘sin.’ Sort of like a modern day inquisition, that no one expects. (Pardon my Monty Python joke.) Lured to an isolated location with the promise of work, our protagonist enters a cold, sadistic Hell.

Confessions are coerced by torture, and these scenes do a great job at making you feel uneasy. However, I feel they tried to hard to go the same route Martyrs did with this angle. When you have scenes of torture, and give an explanation behind them, you need depth. You also need something that’s going to make your audience think. Here, there’s little depth. It’s more or less misogyny from a group of crazies. The only thing that’s established is the fanatical religious devotion the siblings have. They’re sadistic people, doing sadistic things. That’s who these people are, in a nutshell.

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This film’s greatest strengths comes from its pacing, and its presentation. Aside from the torture, there are two sub plots also occurring. All three are told out of sequence, but merge in a constant string of continuity. We have the trauma suffered from our protagonist, her attempts to get better through therapy, and the hopelessness of her current situation. It’s always refreshing to see a horror film try a different method of narrative, rather than simply going from point A to point B. Much of the story doesn’t fall into complete predictability, and you get the feeling that you need to know what’s going to happen next. Here, the horror comes from what you don’t know.

Is this film worth a watch? Absolutely. Despite being panned by several critics, I feel it deserves more credit than it’s received. Although you won’t find anything groundbreaking, you’ll still find a decent story. One that has moments that hit you hard, and makes you want to sit through until the closing credits.

 

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