Anchor Bay // 2005 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 13th, 2006
In the hospital of the damned, death is the ultimate painkiller.
What if you saw demons walk among the living? What if sinister voices whispered in your ear? What if Jerry O'Connell would not leave you alone? Watch as Christine Taylor (Dodgeball) grapples with these important life questions.
Amy (Taylor) is your typical blonde elementary school hottie teacher, trapped in a non-committal relationship and harboring a severe hospital phobia. One day, while doing the commute with her boyfriend Nick (Shane Brolly), she gets into a major car accident. Amy pries herself out of the wreck and Nick is packed into an ambulance and shuttled off to a hospital.
And the mystery begins. Amy can't locate the hospital Nick's been taken to and she's frantic. Worse, horrific visions of demons have been plaguing her, and seemingly wherever she turns is another nightmarish creature screaming "He belongs to us!" Amy eventually connects with the driver of the other vehicle, a guy named Lucas (O'Connell). Turns out, his sister's been taken to the same mysterious hospital, so the two band together to track it down.
Their investigation points them to St. Rosemary's, a notorious hospital that burned down decades ago when the doctors and nurses committed a mass suicide -- and killed all the patients in the process. Meanwhile, in the hospital, Nick is confronted with his own nightmares, as he is treated by creepy doctors and hot nurses who participate in lesbian blood rituals at night.
It's up to Amy to find a way into St. Rosemary's and rescue her boyfriend, while eluding demons, zombies, and Lucas, whose purposes are unclear.
I'm not sure what it is with Room 6. The cast is solid and the acting is fine, the story isn't too bad, there a few decent scares, and the overall quality of the production is very good. Yet it never came close to really engaging me. Bottom line: Room 6 is a mediocre thriller.
It's lacking that intangibility that makes genre movies stand out, I suppose. There were jump scenes and narrative twists and demons galore, but the whole endeavor felt like a paint-by-numbers effort from director Michael Hurst. And I don't mean that necessarily as a crushing criticism. The numbers have been tried and true and the painting is good, but the finished product just doesn't stand out.
One big problem was the over-dependency of the "scary vision" tactic. The first couple of times Amy catches sight of a ghoulish manifestation, it's genuinely off-putting. After that it's just rinse and repeat over and over, with a few more creature designs and locales and the same relentless Christine Taylor-screaming. It's telling that the most effective shock scene is the first one, where, fresh out of the car accident, as Amy surveys the crowd, she sees a creature lurking. The reveal is chilling and the demon design is something I've never seen before, but, sadly, this particular motif piques at that moment. It's sad, because the remainder of the film relies so heavily on the demon jump scares, and though there are few slightly unsettling encounters to follow (the church and police scenes stand out), none effectively scare. Worse, I never felt the impending dread that is so key to these types of films. It was just "talking, talking, demons, Christine Taylor wailing, Jerry O'Connell looking shifty, more talking, demon, demon, talking, back-room lesbianism, talking."
And then there's the twist, which we know is coming. The mystery of St. Rosemary's and Amy's startling visions has been brewing for over 90 minutes, and we know there is a payoff, and when it arrives...well, I'll let you judge the effectiveness of the resolution. I thought it was cheesy, but loyal to the plot that had preceded it. You, on the other hand, might have your mind blown.
When all is said and done, Room 6 still remains a half-decent film, but lacking that spark to set it apart from other supernatural thrillers.
Anchor Bay has packaged a nice presentation, featuring a crisp 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and an effective Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. Extras are highlighted by a robust (40 minutes!) documentary called "Hospital from Hell" and a revealing commentary track by writer/director Mike Hurst and writer/producer Mark A. Altman.
It's a hard-R horror-thriller (a rebuttal to the "emasculation of horror movies" as noted in the commentary) and all the pieces seem to be in play for a noteworthy chiller, but the unfortunate truth is that Room 6 just doesn't distinguish itself as anything special.
Sorry, but it's enema-time!
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Writers' Commentary
* "Hospital from Hell" Featurette
* DVD-ROM Screenplay