Sunday, February 22

The Black Room (1981)

Released in 1984
Directed by Elly Kenner
88 Minutes / Vestron Video / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

A man seeking a little extramarital fun rents the use of a eerie black room at an estate in the Hollywood Hills owned by an youthful and attractive brother and sister. Relating this as just a fantasy to his wife, she becomes suspect after discovering a newspaper ad for the room and keys in the glove box of his car. She sets out to investigate and is crushed by the news of her husband's very real infidelity.

Yet, being convinced by the brother, decides to partake in the forbidden decadence of the black room for herself. Her husband is none too pleased, but unbeknown to him the siblings have been entrapping his sex partners to farm their blood for their continued existence. The married couple find an uneasy balance, but soon find their excesses far too much to handle. The siblings then reveal their true intentions on the end of a syringe and not only are the couple in great danger...but so are their children.

This film does an admirable job of attempting something a bit more methodical than the popular horrors of the time. The nature of trust in relationships is explored, which gives the story unexpected depth, but this also feels a little forced.

The couple seems shocked and dismayed from the mutual failings of their marriage, but not to a very realistic extent. An example is when the wife equates witnessing her husband's raw lust for another woman through a small mirrored window as "just bodies" after stating she died a dozen deaths while watching. I'm unsure if the filmmakers wanted to imply a "supernatural" draw of the black room clouding their judgment or what. Still, neither goes nuclear in the face of the ruined state of their relationship like expected.

There's also some needless padding early in the film, like a long scene of weird tribal "horseback riding" between the husband and sister followed by an impromptu photo shoot by the brother. Your guess is as good as mine on that one. The direction isn't terribly inspired; only standing out when capturing the dark intimacy of the confined black room. A neat dash of bloody Grand Guignol theatrics play out in the climax that are indeed welcome after the queasy sensibility of the rest of the film. Catch a young and slightly "thicker" Linnea Quigley in a small babysitter role.

Film: 5.5/10

VHS Picture: 7/10

VHS Sound: 5/10

No comments: you dare tread upon the staircase?

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