DVD REVIEW: The Killing Room
Amazing cast of characters delivers in this psychological thriller...
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I've always been a fan of thrillers and The Killing Room is exactly that. An entertaining, edge of your seat psychological film which tests the endurance, will, and human condition of four seemingly unrelated people, The Killing Room - screened at the Sundance Film Festival - delivers a shocking tale of what individuals, groups, and even our country could do in order to win at all costs.
The story's beginning is simple: four volunteers off the street are told they'll be paid $250 to participate in a test of human will. What they don't realize is their lives are on the line and that anything can happen. Supposedly based on the MK-Ultra experiments which are, according to the film, real civilian experiments the US government took part in back in the 1950s and 1960s, the true motives of the experiment are haunting to say the least. While I can't say I wasn't disgusted by the idea that our goverment could have done this, the results of the experiment (at least in this fictional film) scared me even more...
The Killing Room includes a powerhouse of actors, including Nick Cannon, Clea Duvall, Shea Whigham, and an awesome Timothy Hutton (one of the most underrated actors working today!) as the test subjects. Peter Stormare stars as the head of the project while Chloe Sevigny stars as the audience's viewpoint character, a doctor asked to come in and train to help the project. While none of these actors are as big as say...a George Clooney or a Brad Pitt; together, they make a great ensemble cast and, for this lower-budget film that included only a handful of cast members and maybe four or five sets, The Killing Room features one of the best well-rounded casts I've seen in a film in a long time.
As for the film, the 93 minutes are presented in widescreen with a 5.1 English Surround Sound track. One of the major issues with The Killing Room on DVD is the dynamic range of sounds. Too often, the spoken word is soft while the background sounds and/or score (which is well done), is too loud. And, disappointing, there are no subtitles for folks like me who - in cases like this - need to read the spoken words in order to follow the film. Only through constant use of the "volume" button was I able to hear every word.
Overall, The Killing Room was a solid film and well worth a watch for those who enjoy psychological thrillers. Director Johnathan Liebesman (2006's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning) does a solid job of telling a haunting tale (written by Gus Krieger and Ann Peacock) while the actors (especially Timothy Hutton!) do an amazing job of bringing to life four characters who seemingly have little in common save their goal of staying alive.
The Killing Room is available now on DVD wherever fine home video is sold and is rated R for violent content and language.
- Jess Horsley