Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

Room 205 | Dark Floors

By Steve Anderson
December 1, 2008

Room 205Room 205
***
DVD
Directed by Martin Barnewitz
Written by Jannik Tai Mosholt
Starring Neel Ronholt, Mikkel Arnot, Julie R. Olgaard, Mira Wanting
Produced by Kim Magnusson
91 mins
R
2008

I have to admit...the way things were going was not looking well for the material released in the Ghost House Underground collection. It was looking like a vast array of still-steaming crapola that could only charitably be called mediocre.

But this week, we have broken the streak...somewhat...with Room 205, a Danish import that proves if you slog through enough coal eventually you'll manage to find at least a flawed diamond.

And in this flawed diamond, Katrine, a girl who's mother has just died, finds herself moving all the way to Copenhagen to go to school. She's found some roommates who seem at least provisionally nice, but following an ill-fated hookup with one of them, things start to go wrong very fast. Trying to bully Katrine out of the university, her roommates use the legend of a ghost of a girl who died in the dorm. The problem with this, of course, is that the legend is actually quite real, and the ghost in question is set free from its prison of a bathroom mirror to run amok.

I know, right now, it sounds kind of baffling. And it is, just a little bit--one would think they took WAY too many cues from recent release Mirrors. But it's also got some fairly creepy moments, and that gives us a bit of hope.

At first, I thought this was going to be yet ANOTHER huge embarrassing disappointment from the people who'd already brought me SEVERAL. Watching the Danish version of The OC for the first half hour certainly wasn't a real quality bellringer. In fact, I got to the point where I was muttering irritably at my TV, when does something CREEPY actually happen?

And then, zombies.

Yeah, I know. Sure, it was just Katrine's roommates acting like TOTAL pricks, and then the whole mirror thing threw in and things just kept getting weirder...but still. At almost EXACTLY the half-hour mark, Room 205 will stop being a chatty, bubbly TV series and start being a vague ripoff of Mirrors with plenty of freakishness.

Oh...and the part where the lights in the hallway steadily go out in sequence? It's been done before, but I love it. Every time I see it, which is admittedly not often, I enjoy it. I actually wish I saw it a bit more often.

This is the reason it got three stars. Sure, this isn't the greatest of movies. But it's the best I've seen yet of the Ghost House Underground series and I can't help but think that that merits a little extra credit.

Even the ending features a pretty nifty twist, which actually makes a LOT of sense given the events that preceded it. It'll be worth watching.

The special features include audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, a behind the scenes featurette, director's commentary, and trailers for The Last House in the Woods, Brotherhood of Blood, Room 205, No Man's Land: Rise of the Reeker, The Substitute, Dark Floors, Trackman, and Dance of the Dead.

All in all, so far, this is high water mark for the Ghost House Underground series. Sadly, this still isn't saying much.

 

Dark FloorsDark Floors
*
DVD
Directed by Pete Riski
Written by Pekka Lehtosaari
Starring Skye Bennett, Noah Huntley, Dominique McElligott, Ronald Pickup
Produced by Ingvar Thordarson, Julius Kemp
R
86 mins
2008

You BASTARDS.

I've been trying valiantly to tone down the whole language bit, but frankly, there's not a whole lot of equivalents for "bastard". That and they can say it on network TV--watch an episode of South Park and see--so I'm feeling all right about it.

Anyway, that aside, the reason I'm seething with rage is a little movie called "Dark Floors", which I later learned was subtitled "The Lordi Motion Picture". Now, at first, when I saw "Lordi" it sounded kind of Italian, like maybe one of Argento or Fulci's lesser-known cronies got back into the game. And the plot synopsis sure read like a possibility. Even watching the movie for the first hour or so looked like a great plan!

But then I saw the last twenty minutes and the whole thing just buckled like someone put a cinderblock on top of a house of cards.

Basically, the plot of "Dark Floors" is "half a dozen people run around a hospital facing down random monsters that do stuff and then people get killed off one at a time until finally parts of the movie you saw earlier run again for no stated reason."

Seriously--I was actually ENJOYING it. I had this great thing all worked out about how cool it was that the movie was mostly brightly lit, and how you don't see that kind of thing much, and how the movie was actually kinda scary because it was so seemingly RANDOM and then...and then the last twenty minutes came up and I was screaming, baffled, at my TV: "I DARE you to make less sense!"

This was bad enough, frankly, to make me shuffle to my computer to write up a review of two whole stars. And I was going to be SAD about it too, because up until the last twenty minutes or so, Dark Floors was actually pretty sweet.

Then I found out what "Lordi" was.

And that's when the whole "rage" thing got started.

Because you see, what these misbegotten sons out of wedlock (see what I mean? loses ALL the impact of "bastards" because I had to EXPLAIN it for the most part) put together was, basically, a giant vanity piece. See, what I didn't know--and likely what most of you didn't either--was that Lordi is a FINNISH METAL BAND. In costumes that will prove unsettlingly familiar because they SHOW UP IN THE MOVIE.

I couldn't believe it when I finally put all the pieces together. This is a giant vanity piece for some costumed freak show from Finland. Worse, it's not even the first. There was apparently one earlier called "The Kin", which makes this the SECOND colossal disjointed waste of time these Halloween costume party rejects put together.

The ending, like I said, is so badly disjointed that it brings down the rest of the movie.

The special features include Lordi videos, interviews, a live show, a behind the scenes featurette, and trailers for Saw V, Punisher: War Zone, Dance of the Dead, No Man's Land: Rise of the Reeker, The Substitute, Trackman, Room 205, Last House in the Woods, Brotherhood of Blood, and Dark Floors.

All in all, I hate this movie. The only reason it didn't get a zero is because it was actually pretty good for a while. If you're willing to look past a horribly disjointed ending and the fact that the whole thing is just a giant fluff piece for Finnish metal, you might get some fun out of it. I did...for about an hour.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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