The Red Room (2008)

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Overall Rating 76%
Overall Rating
Ranked #14,077
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In the middle of an uncharacteristically chilly Los Angeles night, 2 men meet for the first time on a rooftop, somewhere downtown. One of the men, Hadley Prince, is calm and in control. The other man, Nicholas Rowe, has come with an envelope full of cash. He is shaky, sweaty, and visibly nervous. As the evening progresses, Hadley leads Nick to an upscale top floor apartment, a quiet balcony, and ultimately into the strange revealing confines of The Red Room: where right and wrong, love and hate, even life and death....are all relative. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: May 12, 2009
It's rare for me to go into a movie completely blind these days. It seems as though every film has to come with a slick little trailer and a revealing synopsis, and even if you intentionally avoid those, you're still going to at least see the DVD cover and the title - both of which can do a lot to reveal the gist of what you're about to watch. When The Red Room showed up in my mailbox, I knew nothing about it aside from the title and the fact that it had nothing to do with the Japanese horror series of the same name. I was never sent a plot outline, I never saw the trailer, and in fact, it didn't even come with a DVD cover to sort of hint at the general tone of the film. I sort of enjoy that type of experience, and with this film, it really worked when the shocking conclusion rolled around.

There's not much that I can say about the storyline without treading deep into spoiler territory, so I'll fill you in on the general setup and let viewers experience the rest for themselves. It begins with Nicholas Rowe (Mikos Zavros) meeting up with Dr. Hadley Prince (Nathan Russell) in a remote section of town, and apparently, the two have some sort of business arrangement set up; Nicholas has an envelope full of cash, and Hadley has someone or something at his apartment that Nick wants. Nicholas is given an address and told to show up there in twenty minutes, and when he arrives, Hadley offers him some prescription drugs and liquor to calm his nerves. The final details are ironed out over cigarettes and brandy, the cash transaction is made, and Nicholas then enters "the red room" to claim his goods. What is he getting? Watch and find out for yourself, and keep in mind what I said about this film promising a shocking conclusion.

Even though this short film clocks in at just under fifteen minutes, the entire story is told in a restrained, almost dreamy sort of way. The filmmakers didn't rush the story along and were content to let the actors do their thing for a while before pushing the story onwards, and in doing so, they made the finale work better than it could have. When you watch two middle-aged men chat on a balcony about their deal, you sort of get an idea as to where this is going. Then, once you've seen the artistic nature of the lighting and when you've heard the piano-driven score, you start to let your guard down. Finally, you see the scene that this has been building up to, and... wow. It almost doesn't fit in with the subdued tone of the film that preceded it, but at the same time, it fits perfectly when you think about the hints that we were given along the way. This is what we were waiting for, but it's certainly not what we were expecting.

Speaking of the lighting, I should point out that the film simply looks beautiful courtesy of some damned fine cinematography. I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to an Argento flick, but one can definitely see an influence while witnessing some of the lighting choices made throughout the film. These choices made watching even the slowest of scenes easy to sit through, as instead of focusing on how the leading man is walking across the room in slow-motion while stifling a yawn, we're transfixed by how nice it all looks.

Honestly, there's not much more than I can say here. The leading men did a fine job with the acting side of things and I thoroughly enjoyed the shock ending, but obviously, I can't say much about that conclusion without giving everything away. I will say that fans of the bizarre and macabre will likely enjoy it as much as I did, and in regards to the overall film, I'll also say that it's the perfect usage of the short film medium: it's an idea that wouldn't work as a feature length film, yet it's also an idea that was certainly worth exploring. Too many filmmakers miss that fine line while creating shorts, but these fellows didn't. 9/10.
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