Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
After enduring a tragedy, a family moves to a rural home and the mother discovers the new house harbors some very dark secrets.
Okay, so, let’s just dive right in here. We know very well from the title of the film, The Disappointments Room, that the new house has a kind of standard haunted story thing going on. Somewhere near the attic is a locked room which used to house all the disappointing people, usually children, of any given family that was lodging there until they mercifully died, right? Fine. And sure enough, just as soon as the Barrow family takes dubious residence in the place, Mom Dana (Kate Beckinsale) discovers the locked room, finds a key rather swiftly, and gets herself locked in there to be scary-haunted by the former residents of the Room. Sure.
Dana gets mysteriously let out of the Room by one of the disfigured ghosts, and can’t for the life of her understand why her husband David (Mel Raido) or her son Lucas (Duncan Joiner) didn’t notice she had been missing for however long she could’ve sworn it was. But, therein lies the rub – was Dana really gone? The movie seems to posit, hesitantly though, that most if not all of the horrid things that happen to Dana in the new house are actually all in her head, a result of the mental devastation after the family trauma that led them to relocate here in the first place.
What family trauma, you ask? We learn, in disjointed fits of course, that David and Dana had a daughter, and at some point in the recent past, she died. The general vibe is that it was somehow Dana’s fault, the result of a tragic accident of some kind, but specifics are never really given out in the entire movie, just that Dana feels incredible guilt about her daughters death. Though the reveal sequence towards the climax scene near the end of the film seems to claim that Dana actually did kill her daughter, not on purpose but still, perhaps as a result of neglectful smothering or something like it. Well, we go on.
The house is old and in need of tons of repair and Dana would like nothing more than to do it all herself, she is the daughter of an architect after all, but eventually townie Ben (Lucas Till) is brought in to help with fixing. Dana seems to be inexplicably drawn to Ben and enjoys bluntly talking with him while simultaneously ordering him about, like a worker on a construction job. Ben somehow enjoys hanging with Dana too, and takes her abrupt attitude in stride, which is better than I would do.
Stumbling along, Dana becomes convinced that the ghosts she’s released from the Disappointments Room are after her remaining son Lucas. Despite Dana having discovered what she thinks is a source of ghostly Father Judge Blackers (Gerald McRaney) powers, hidden oil paintings of him and his wife under strategically placed mirrors, and destroying them, she’s pretty sure she’s done that anyways, the ghosts are still after Lucas. Meanwhile, David’s getting very concerned about Dana, what with the anniversary of their daughters death coming up, he decides the best thing to do to make Dana feel better would be, wait for it, to attempt to ease her loneliness and despair by hosting a dinner party with some out-of-town friends at their new haunted house. As we all could’ve guessed, this goes over with Dana like a ton of damned bricks and she just loses her shit over cake and broken crockery, screaming and ranting her head off at David and their guests at the dinner table. That’s hardly the end of confrontation either, but only seems to serve as the opening catalyst for a night of violence that may or may not be all in Dana’s own head anyways.
I’m not going to spoil the ending, mainly because I couldn’t actually figure out it out entirely. The films story just doesn’t have enough of anything to be able to tell if the ghosts are the actual problem, or if it really is all in Dana’s head and she’s just a psycho bitch, or what. It doesn’t help that there simply isn’t anything likable about Dana, she wanders the entire movie as a cee-you-next-Tuesday to practically everyone; I couldn’t tell if that was on purpose or not. There was plenty opportunity for handyman Ben to create all sorts of marital tension between Dana and David by initiating some kind of affair, that never happened far as I could tell. Even the poor kid Lucas is practically a paper cutout of a kid, with little personality given to speak of other than we know he likes his new house-kitty, and his willingness to play with dollhouses seems to speak of wanting to follow in his moms architectural footsteps. It seems to me a damned shame, because Wentworth Miller, yes this guy, wrote the script for the sleeper hit Stoker and also wrote the script for The Disappointments Room, and the movie adaptation could’ve been so much more than this hot mess.
Decide for yourself what lurks in The Disappointments Room on Netflix!