The Dead Room (2015)
Director: Jason Stutter
Starring: Jed Brophy, Jeffrey Thomas & Laura Petersen
Released by: Scream Factory
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Set in New Zealand, The Dead Room centers on a trio of ghost hunters as they investigate strange happenings at an abandoned farmhouse. Before long, skepticism morphs into full-blown fear when supernatural forces make their presence known to the unwanted visitors.
Inspired by the local legend of Central Otago, New Zealand, the contrasting methods of science and faith converge to uncover the unsettling truths behind a haunted home in this slow-build snoozer. Descending upon the forsaken abode, two technologically savvy and scientifically minded paranormal investigators (Jed Brophy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Jeffrey Thomas, The Light Between Oceans respectively) joined by twentysomething medium Holly (Laura Petersen, Shopping) waste little time rigging their equipment in hopes of capturing evidence of the otherworldly to no such avail. With little exposition and minimal character development, The Dead Room crawls at a snail’s pace before yawn-inducing bumps in the night and howling winds finally signal the trio’s cameras and nerves into believing ghostly apparitions are near. While Holly intuitively senses her intrusion upon the homestead, uneasy techie Liam is urged by his scientific superior Scott to remain together until conclusive evidence can be obtained of their supposed haunting. Swinging doors and thrown furniture continue the parlor tricks of the entity as onscreen fear fails to convert restless viewers. With a promising setup and breezy runtime, The Dead Room attempts to desperately possess audiences in its fleeting moments with the discovery of an unexpected guest and a ghostly twist that feels far too rushed and questionably unexpected to make any redeeming impact. Establishing little to no emotional connection to its characters and making sluggish strides in suspense, The Dead Room is unfortunately all bark and no bite.
Scream Factory presents The Dead Room with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Reading expectedly sharp for a feature of its era, skin tones from Holly’s pale-pigment to the aging lines of lead scientist Scott are natural and well-defined. Meanwhile, textures in the green and purple wall paint of the haunted home are strongly relayed with black levels appearing generally inky with no heavy instances of crush with only minimal splotchiness in facial features during the film’s basement set climax. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, dialogue is effortlessly handled with the creaky floors, glass breaking and door slamming sound effects of the specter making excellent motions on the track. In addition, an optional DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix has also been provided. Lastly, the disc’s sole supplement is the film’s Trailer (1:43).
Exhaustively sedate and gapingly monotonous, The Dead Room strives to use its slow-pace and less is more approach to its strengths while, colorless character development and uneventful occurrences sacrifice its true potential. Shortchanging its runtime and concluding on a go for broke jump scare, the Kiwi-based production gravely disappoints whereas its high-def presentation at least makes worthwhile strides in its crisp photography and effective soundscape.