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THE DARKROOM
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Reviewed by: Dave Murray

Directed by: Michael Hurst

Starring:
Shawn Pyfrom
Reed Diamond
Lucy Lawless

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
When a mental patient (Diamond) is offered an experimental drug to help him regain his memory, he starts seeing some really twisted shit. He meets up with a young boy (Pyfrom), whose stepdad has a few nasty secrets locked up in his darkroom...secrets that just might lead the Man to clues about his past.
Is it good movie?
This was a demn fine thriller, even if it was light on the horror elements. "The Man" was convincingly portrayed by Reed Diamond (dig the expressions!), an in fact most of the cast put in some credible and thoroughly watchable performances. It's great to see Lucy Lawless (now blonde) given a meatier role than she has done lately, and colour me crazy but I even enjoyed Greg Grunberg's performance as the seriously messed up stepdad.

The flick looks great, and the pacing is taut. There are some gorgeous clours in this film, especially the warm orange day shots and the cool night blues. Very fine job from director Michael Hurst. I actually like some of the dude's work (House of the Dead II wasn't all bad, Room 6 wasn't entirely poisonous, and his direct-to-video Pumpkinhead will be judged in time). The flick ran straight as an arrow and even kept you guessing right up until the surprise ending. Not always the case when you have such a monumental twist ending, but at least it wasn't predictable in the first half of the flick.

What gore there was (again, more thriller than horror) was handled nicely. We get to see some wickedly slashed throats, multiple contusions, and one sick looking mud monster that adds impact to The Man's visions. We even get a sweet nude sceen from hottie Julian Berlin, who makes me wonder why the hell waitresses don't look like this in my hometown! Didn't much notice if she could act...luckily the film stands up to repeat viewing. As well, the short part that Erin Foster played as Kimberly made me want to see more of her.

All said, The Darkroom was a well put together thriller with a little horror sauce on top, finely acted and competently directed. It's refreshing to see original ideas being made these days, and I for one will be watching out for more from these guys. Hey, the flick even ended on a happy, revenge-sort of note, which was different enough to be refreshing.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.78:1.

Audio: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) with a commentary track by director Hurst and writer/producer Mark A. Altman.
The Extras
Not much here, except a short Featurette cleverly called "The Darkroom Exposed", which was entertaining in a generic, gladhanding sort of way, and some throwaway Deleted Scenes that I'm glad were cut from this tight running piece.
Last Call
Not what I would call a horror masterpiece, or even a triumph of thrills, but it's an entertaining little suspense movie with some fine acting, some sweet gore (mixed oddly enough with some even sweeter nekkid and half-nekkid ladies), a cool concept, some eerie camera work, trippy vision sequences (it's all about the mud monster, man), and a nice twist/happy ending. All wrapped up in a rocking little indie package that made for a groovy time. Some bad, mostly good, that's about it....now who do I talk to about that waitress situation?
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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