Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Don't Believe I've Seen That Weapon Against Ghosts Before

The Dead Room puts three paranormal researchers in a house to try and determine if there's a ghost there. Scott claims (repeatedly) to be intensely scientific and interested only in facts, to an annoying degree (which is why I figured he would be the one killed). Holly has a sensitivity to the presence of spirits, though little experience using it (which is why I figured she'd be the one killed). Liam is fairly scientific, but not the condescending tool Scott is, and he has a family back home, including two kids (which is why I figured he'd be the one to die).

My mistake was in assuming only one of them wouldn't make it.

It's quickly established something shows up at 3 a.m., pushes the front door open, and clomps down the hall. The more they try to detect or communicate with it, the more aggressive it gets. Holly claims she sees a large man, and pretty soon he's punching holes in walls. But there's one room he will not enter, so they use retreat to that when furniture starts flying, although the ghosts aim seems pretty bad. Eventually they try to get rid of the ghost. Holly wants to try a cleansing, which Scott dismisses as 'witchcraft'. He's a man of science, you see. And since ghosts must be made of matter, he's certain he can disperse the spirit's particles with a sufficiently ultra-low frequency sound.

That's right, he's going to defeat the ghost by pumping up the bass. Exorcism via dubstep. I wish I'd thought of that to use in a story. Maybe I'll just steal it (or Pollock will).

Scott's a character that takes himself so seriously it makes him funny. When he initially describes his theory, Liam jibes that Scott wants to be a Ghostbuster. Scott scoffs that movie was nonsense, because they were trying to catch ghosts. 'Might as well try to trap helium in a bird cage,' he replies. Oh, but trying to scatter it to the winds with the Brown Noise from some equipment you probably took from the back of my friend's car, entirely logical.

The movie makes some choices that I found a little novel. It wastes no time on the family that inhabited the house. They've already fled and called these folks in by the time the movie starts. None of the team bothered to do any research ahead of time on the house, figure out if maybe something horrible happened here. There isn't even any time spent trying to figure out why the ghost won't enter that one room. There's one room we never see inside, Holly opens the door once, flinches at the smell, we hear flies buzzing inside, and that's it. No payoff to that.

In the last 10 minutes, we finally learn what's up with the safe room, it turns into a bit of twist ending. Somewhat effective, in that it at least explains why the ghost seemed so ineffectual at actually harming these people. But everything happens so quickly it's kind of a blur. Things seem OK, a surprise is revealed, everything goes to shit, movie over.

The movie also ends on one of those shots where the view is at ground level and something scuttles forward from the shadows at it right before the credits roll. Like the first Paranormal Activity. Except this wasn't a film where someone is carrying a camera at all times and we're seeing things through it. The film is shot more like our perspective is that of a floating presence. We might hover just behind a character's shoulder, but then pause while they continue on down the hall. So I don't know what the thing was rushing towards in the final shot, from its perspective. There was nothing there.

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