The title of The Disappointments Room begs the question: Is The Disappointments Room a disappointment? The short answer: Yes.
The film begins similarly to Haneke’s Funny Games, only without the amazing sound cues. A couple (Kate Beckinsale and Mel Raido) and their young son (Duncan Joiner) move out to the country for a new beginning after a terrible accident. The house, which from certain angles looks more like a castle, is a mess: broken light fixtures, leaking ceilings, junk everywhere. We follow this nuclear family, unassuming and entirely banal, as they fall victim to a strange presence in their home (maybe; it becomes impossible to tell).
The Disappointments Room is a film that is utterly basic. It checks all the boxes of a basic horror movie and then moves on as if we don’t know any better. This makes it all feel like studio regurgitation. The sanitized characters are boring and one-dimensional, the exact thing that Haneke parodies in Funny Games, a place from which it feels these characters are lifted.
Every cliche a haunted house movie could put forth is accounted for here. Door slamming closed on its own: Check. The protagonist’s plight being ignored as mere paranoia or mental instability: Check. Mirror gags: Check. A Zelda Rubenstein-type character that provides an exposition dump: Check.
The film is empty and lacking, in need of anything, even something as simple as a narrative hook, to make it worthwhile. Even the “hook” we get involving possible supernatural forces in the house is essentially dropped with little explanation. What is on-screen appears like a first draft put to film.
To her credit, Beckinsale fares well in her carbon copy character. Her performance is far more appealing than the film that surrounds her. Alas, she does not act within a vacuum: the lighting is a nasty gray and brown scheme, the scares are tepid and few and far between, and the script lacks cohesion. If there is anything keeping this rote ship of a movie afloat, it is Beckinsale.
The Disappointments Room lacks originality, suspense, and energy. It is a lifeless slog through a studio attempt at strategic scheduling. A savvy filmgoer will see this as a fledgling film that couldn’t take the heat of Halloween season competition, and these filmgoers are most certainly right. The Disappointments Room is, quite simply, not worth opening the door for.
The Disappointments Room: D+
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)