Little Box of Horrors: The Disappointments Room.
In search of a creature more elusive than Sasquatch, I travel around Maine looking for a Redbox that houses a movie so bad that it’s good. Unfortunately I can’t write the mileage off on my taxes.
I’ve tried a lot of different criteria to tease out a winner out from the pile of stinkers I’ve watched thus far. But I’m a man of the people, so it’s time to let the people have their say This time I am at the Shopper’s Village Redbox in Yarmouth Maine, looking for the movie with the lowest Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score. Let’s see which aggregate of anecdotal evidence comes out on top. Or bottom as the case may be.
- USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (2016). How is it that a jingoist sharknado/war biopic starring Nicholas Cage is the “best” of the three films here with a 9% rating? Who are the psychopaths who watched this movie and gave it a thumbs up, and do they want an internship at Deluxe Video Online?
- Arsenal (2017). Coming in at a blistering 4%, we have a crime movie starring… Nicholas Cage! Everytime ol’ Nick thinks he’s hit the bottom of the acting barrel, some studio throws him a shovel.
- The Disappointments Room (2016). We have a winner! This undisputed, universally reviled movie stars Kate Beckinsale (of Underworld infamy) and comes in at… 0%! Zero fucking percent! I can’t wait!
The Disappointments Room (2016)
Kate Beckinsale and Mel Raido are Dana and David Barrows, parents recovering from a recent tragedy. As part of their healing process, they decide to leave the city and move out to the country with their young son (Duncan Joiner). Because what better way to deal with trauma than to buy a creepy old mansion on a hill? Of course the house hides a dark secret, and it threatens to tear the family apart. Somewhat literally.
Despite being a very by-the-book horror movie, TDR does what it does fairly well. It has all the standard tropes. A creepy historian lays out the tale of a house haunted by family tragedy. Of course the Barrows bought the house to try and forget about a family tragedy (the loss of a newborn daughter). There are jump scares, pan away/ pan back apparitions, ghosts, and devil dogs. As such it’s not the most groundbreaking movie, but nothing is done poorly.
The camera work is solid and not some shaky cam wank fest. The tropes make sense and are trotted out sparingly (maybe the “something in the mirror” shtick was a little overused, but it wasn’t egregious), and you get a little bit from several genres of horror. In addition to newer jump scare horror movies like The Conjuring, we get Victorian horror aspects, a touch of The Ring, and even some old Stephen King references in a feline guardian (Cat’s Eye) being a totem against a devil dog (Cujo). It’s not the freshest horror film out there (like Get Out or Split), but it’s quite serviceable for what you’re paying.
If this movie was going to crash and burn, my bet was that Kate Beckinsale was going to be the most likely culprit. I only watched the first Underworld movie, but I thought it was utter shit, and she was wooden and superfluous in it; only there so that they could have a good looking woman in tight leather to titillate the 16 year olds that made up the movie’s target demographic.
Here Beckinsale gets some redemption. She is perfectly fine in this film. Her character is the highlight of the film, in fact. She’s a tough (but not overbearing) working professional, who doesn’t suffer fools or sexist bullshit. Her trauma over the death of her daughter doesn’t reduce her character, it adds depth and makes the later twists and turns of the film make sense.
Mel Raido was the weakest link, but even he wasn’t all that bad. He tends to play the Good Dad in the insulting Good Dad/Bitchy Mom trope, but they have a few scenes where he realizes that he is prone to some crappy behaviors, and he apologizes. He apologizes for at one time mansplaining to Kate and in one scene puts a townie in place for assuming that Dana couldn’t be the primary breadwinner (she is) in the family. It’s not perfect, but it gets a half-woke from me.
Lastly, Duncan Joiner is fantastic in that he is neither bratty nor too cute. He just acts his role. It has to be the best child actor performance I’ve seen that wasn’t Dafne Keen murdering a bunch of randos with her blade appendages.
This movie is pretty much the textbook definition of what non-AAA Redbox fare should be. It’s not a cheesy rip off. It’s acted well. It wasn’t blowing my mind, but it wasn’t boring. It’s the first RedBox movie I’ve reviewed for this feature that I didn’t regret the loss of a buck fifty and two hours of my life.
That being said, I have to imagine that it not being edgy or titillating is the reason it got savaged by critics. Horror buffs can find some truly spectacular stuff these days, so “just good enough” isn’t going to cut it. The other group that rented this flick were probably hoping to see Beckinsale’s tits. Fuck them.
So while this movie isn’t the coveted so bad it’s good movie of my dreams, it is a perfectly fine way to spend an evening. I might go over to Rotten Tomatoes and get this film out of its own personal Disappointment Room. Honestly if I had to give it a letter grade it would get…
Sorry, we don’t do that shit at Deluxe Video Online.