NOVEMBER 3, 2008
Anyone who reads this site often knows that I watch a lot of obscure movies. So occasionally I check the IMDb’s “external reviews” page for proof that anyone else has ever even heard of the damn thing. One site that almost always comes up is slasherpool.com, and while I don’t always agree with them, I’ve come to respect their opinion a bit (I DON’T respect their abysmally small font on their reviews though; it’s easier to read cereal ingredients). So when I saw their praise on Room 205 (Danish: Kollegiet), calling it a “Fast Paced Supernatural Teen Slasher”, I figured it would be, if nothing else, a lot better than the other foreign slasher I’ve seen from the Ghost House Underground set (that would be Trackman). Sadly, that's about all it manages.
Before I get into the movie, I want to comment about the rather misleading nature of the quote, since the same review says that the story is cliché, the plot badly written, the actors bad, etc. You’d think that they would use quotes from a fully positive review, but that is not often the case. I still tease Spooky Dan about “loving” the Halloween remake, which he only sort of enjoyed, but they used one of his out of context quotes on the ads.
Also, slasherpool is a goddamn liar, because this movie is anything but fast-paced. If anything, it’s BIGGEST problem is that it’s deathly slow. Our total body count in the first hour is one. For a “slasher” (and this movie is not really a slasher, unless you think that The Grudge is a slasher), that’s almost a sin. Even Halloween, the patron saint of slashers, and probably the one with the lowest body count of all, racks up three by the hour mark.
Now, that wouldn’t be a problem if the story/characters were interesting, but they are not. Our heroine is “sheltered girl whose mother died” horror female #758934, and the rest of the characters are slasher stereotypes in every sense of the word (a bitch, a jock-y cool guy, a loner...). And the story is right out of any old J-horror film; there’s a ghost haunting mirrors, and as it turns out, it’s the ghost of someone who is seeking revenge for her tragic, accidental death. Zzzzz.
Speaking of mirrors, it’s actually a lot like Mirrors, in that you have this goofy plot, but there’s almost zero levity in the entire film. There’s also a jaw rip (well, an attempt at one), so maybe Aja saw it (it’s been completed for a while, it actually played Screamfest LAST year) before making his disappointing film. So that’s also a problem; at least if they went for a more funhouse, rollercoaster ride version of this story it would liven things up a bit.
But it’s not awful; it’s competently made and the actors are good. And once it finally gets going, it’s kind of exciting, and the deaths are surprisingly cool when they actually occur. To be fair, the slow pace would actually be a benefit if the story was a bit more original or interesting, so it’s nice to see that they are at least TRYING to develop character rather than just present you with wall to wall kills like a latter day F13 movie. Also, I’m pretty sure that this is the first teen horror movie in which our Final Girl snorts cocaine, so at least they aren’t slaves to the “rules”. Finally, there is a pretty rocking song during the end credits that I very much enjoyed, from a band called Marvel Hill. I should note that the new Hinder album nearly gave me a boner though (I highly recommend “Thing For You”), so use that as a gauge for judging my musical taste (you can also just read my Armageddon review, since I judge this kind of junk music the same way).
Also, it’s the 2nd movie in a row I’ve watched that had a character named Olaf.
The DVD has a commentary (in which director Martin Barnewitz also claims it’s a slasher movie) and a making of, neither are essential but props to devoting a lengthy section of the making of to the sound design, which is one of the movie’s strong points. The commentary also has a film critic along for the ride, and it’s kind of ironic that they spend so much time dissecting (and dismissing) slasher movies that are far superior to this one, and talking about what makes an effective horror movie, when Barnewitz failed to do so. Oh well, at least one of them points out that the backstory is the same as (the superior) Shutter, so I don’t have to.
Also, I want to discuss the back of the case, as it includes the longest and most spoiler-y plot synopsis I have ever seen on a DVD. You ready for the whole thing?
“Wanting to start fresh, Katrine moves from the province into a dormitory in Cophenhagen and enrolls athe University. But when she crosses conniving Sanne by getting to gether with Sanne’s ex, all hell breaks loose.”
Now, that would be enough, but:
“Sanne and her friends try to bully Katrine out of the dormitory. They frighten her with an old myth surrounding the ghost of a former resident. Yet the myth very soon becomes a reality. By accident, Katrine sets the ghost free and it starts a terrifyingly gruesome attack on the dormitory’s residents. Only Katrine knows the fate of the remaining residents if she doesn’t stop the actions of the ghost. However, no one believes Katrine’s story and they accuse her of the series of mysterious murders. She seeks help from the former resident Rolf. While the residents continue to die around them, Katrine and Rod embark on a desperate struggle to stop the ghost before it kills those who are left.”
Jesus Christ. Why not explain HOW they stop it while you’re at it, guy who writes the back of DVD cases? Luckily, I don’t even look at the back of DVDs (unless I’m crunched for time and need to make sure that the movie is short and/or featureless), because that monstrosity would make me NOT want to watch the thing, especially since it makes me feel like I already did.
So to bring this writeup full circle, here’s my submission for a quote: “A dull, generic, J-horror esque faux slasher with a decent ending!”
What say you?