Every now and then a movie comes along so bafflingly awful that you have to call into question how it even got made in the first place. Envision a film so poorly made that it feels like a film school student project. A cheesy vintage filter puts a layer of shoddy sheen over everything, designed with zero care for realism or plausibility. The sound is completely unbalanced and awful. Some dialogue you can barely hear, while in the same scene other speech will be blaring. The film is Room 9, a horror drama written and directed by Thomas Walton that forgets to start until halfway in. There is so little effort put into the project as a whole that it left me wondering: if the creative team cared so little, why should we?
Room 9 starts in 1979, following a black couple about to do the nasty in their hotel room after going back and forth about ambitions to open up a bed and breakfast. They are quickly dispatched in a strange double murder, eventually flashing the action forward ‘forty years later.’ A series of murders starts to happen that feel loose and unrelated. From this point, it takes over an hour to get to the threadbare plot. Star (Scout Taylor-Compton from Rob Zombie’s terrific but divisive Halloween double feature) shows up in town, as she has a claim to inherited land. She stays at the Johnson/Bedford Inn—the site of that double murder from the opening. In the dead of night, Star has a series of hallucinations, flashbacks related to the Inn’s sordid history.
Waiting to bring your central star, Scout Taylor-Compton, into the fray until over an hour into Room 9’s runtime is a major glaring misstep. It is both clumsy and lazy, relying on nothing more than glorified horror celebrity cameos and simplistic, uninspired kills. Jason Vorhees actor, Kane Hodder, shows up only to get out of lockup, and serves to check off a ‘horror vet’ box. Did Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes) have just a single day on set, and they proceeded to reuse his one scene over and over again? These genre legends deserve better material, with stronger direction.
In the final act, Room 9 screeches to a halt to explain away every detail with a cringe-worthy voiceover, accompanied by a melodramatic score. It feels particularly out of place considering this is not a movie that treasures any of its characters, so to try to turn around and churn it into an entirely different type of project is tiring. The ending makes no sense and serves as a major eye roll. Awful transitions between scenes, as if they accounted for commercial breaks, made Room 9 even more of a chore to finish. Make no mistake, this is one film that I would have shut off in the first five minutes had I not been reviewing it myself. Save yourself the misery—book a stay at an entirely different destination.
Room 9 checks in on DVD and Digital, Tuesday, July 20th.