By Andrew Buckner
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****.
Taking cues from The Entity (1982), Insidious (2010), Wishmaster (1997) and The Evil Dead (1981), prolific writer-director Rolfe Kanefsky’s The Black Room (2016) is stylish, tense, captivating and fun; an instant classic. The project tells the tale of a married couple who discover a demon that thrives on sexual repression and desire. Such an unholy entity threatens to destroy the lives of the once happy duo. This is almost immediately upon their arrival in their new home.
In so doing, Kanefsky instills a plethora of inventive ideas. They greatly enhance the occasionally formulaic mechanics of the plot. The endeavor also benefits from solid, character-oriented writing. Kanefsky also sports an undeniable capacity for visually stunning direction. Such a trait is wonderfully reminiscent of Dario Argento. The often gooey 1980’s influenced special effects, which come courtesy of Eric Chase and Vincent J. Guastini, only augment the joyously retro feel. Such pulsates ardently through every frame of the proceedings. Correspondingly, Savant’s booming, nail-biting and grimly gorgeous music compliments Kyle Stryker’s same said cinematography brilliantly.
Furthermore, Lin Shaye as Miss Black and Tiffany Shepis as Monica, a real estate agent, shine in their brief turns. Natasha Henstridge as our heroine, Jennifer, makes for a compellingly vulnerable counterpart. This is in relation to her possessed husband, Paul (in a bulls-eye turn from Lukas Hassel). Such is especially true once his increasingly eccentric behavior kicks in near the end of the first act.
In turn, Kanefsky has created a smartly paced, joyously successful horror outing. It is one erected from the most endearing qualities of the genre. Admittedly, the creature in the basement scenario is the most charming element in this respective arsenal. Best of all, the ninety-four minute picture commences with an extended opening segment that is impressive on all accounts. From herein, this largely unpredictable presentation only continues its enjoyably atmospheric and imaginative streak. The rousing, blood-soaked climax and post-end credit scene can be viewed as one magnificent, elongated final wink at the audience. Such results in an all-around superbly done and satisfying venture. Kanefsky has delivered one of the best cinematic terrors of the year. The mysteries of The Black Room are well-worth seeking out.
(Unrated). Contains graphic violence, sexuality, adult themes and nudity.
Now available on video on demand.