Halloween Scene: The Disappointments Room (2016)

While scoping out the recent Netflix additions the other day, I stumbled upon a film called The Disappointments Room. I’ll admit, I was first drawn by the seemingly bad grammar, but then found myself curious about the film because it stars Kate Beckinsale and features a secret room in a big old house. I’m more a fan of the actress from her appearances on talk shows than her films, but figured I’d give it a shot. Plus, I’m a suck for big, old house movies filled with secrets.

This Wentworth Miller-written (I didn’t know he wrote movies!) and D.J. Caruso-directed film features Beckinsale moving into a big house in the country with her husband and son. We come to understand that their baby daughter recently passed away and that they’re looking to start over. She’s had a really hard time dealing with everything — especially the guild she feels for the child’s death — so her husband and son wonder about her when she starts talking about this secret room in the attic that seems to play fast and loose with the rules of time.

As the story progresses and the ghosts of the house make their presence felt to Beckinsale’s character, her husband becomes more and more concerned. At the same time, she learns more about the room itself, which lends its name to the title of the film. A disappointments room was a place where wealthy families would hide any kids born with physical abnormalities. Beckinsale experiences this through illusions and whatnot as Gerald McRaney goes nuts on his daughter and wife in the room.

I found the whole thing pretty chilling. I think Beckinsale’s really solid in her performance of a woman trying to hold on to her sanity after having lost it to some extent not too long ago. As a parent, I could feel for her, but found myself even more devastated by the treatment of these kids in the past because of the real world connections. And then there’s the end which left me with my hands over my mouth because I could see where that bit of hammer time might lead.

Overall, I thought the cast did a great job. Mel Raido was charming as her concerned husband and Duncan Joiner felt up to the challenge as her son. McRaney’s super creepy and mean as the ghost dad and even Lucas Till’s good as the somewhat lecherous (and surprisingly young) handyman who’s there to help fix the roof. Caruso also makes great use of the beautiful house and its grounds, but also plays with sound in ways that I thought were super effective (especially the bit where the kid’s show becomes overwhelming).

After liking this film, I wondered why I hadn’t heard anything about it. Caruso’s done movies like Disturbia, I Am Number Four and xXx: The Return Of Xander Cage and it seems like Beckinsale’s still a pretty big deal. Well, apparently, I’m the only person in the world who liked the movie! It sounds like the film had been cut down and the backers were going through financial problems, a combination that doesn’t usually lead to a good product.

Out of curiosity, I read Brian Collins’ review over on Birth.Death.Movies. As always, I encourage you to read his work, but the gist is that he just never connected with the characters (even though he was right in that headspace) and that it felt like plenty of other movies from different horror subgenres. I guess my knowledge of those films and experience with them is pretty limited because it didn’t feel overly stale to me. However, I do actually agree with most of his points. I guess they just didn’t bother me that much. Different strokes and all that. I do think there’s a better, longer cut of this film though, that should get a release of some sort. Anyway, I liked it and maybe you will too.

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