The Disappointments Room
Y'know, some rooms should probably stay locked.
Take the one in David and Dana's new mansion. Well, the mansion's new to them, at any rate. The house itself has been around a good long while, as the leaky ceilings, moldy floors and decrepit greenhouse can attest. Once the grandest home in this unnamed region of New England (where everyone, strangely, speaks in southern accents), the Blacker House has been empty for a while, and it holds secrets even the locals couldn't guess.
Which brings us back to the room.
Dana, an architect who wants to restore the old home to its former glory, didn't find said room in any of the home's plans. She might not have found it at all, had she not had a nightmare and used the opportunity to take a smoke outside. There she saw a light in a window, quickly snuffed out. Not recognizing the window, Dana decides to investigate (in the middle of the night without any lights, because crawling around a spooky old home in the dark is really the only way to go). But when she gets to where the window should be, she only sees a big wall with a gigantic, bat-filled wardrobe pushed up against it. Almost as if someone was really trying to hide something behind it.
A door, maybe? Of course! Only it's locked, and neither Dana, her husband or their cute-as-a-button kid, Lucas, have the key. Which leaves these new homeowners with a bit of a mystery. Like how those bats managed to survive lo these many years inside that wardrobe.
Oh, and Dana thinks about the door, too. In fact, if Dana doesn't get that door open somehow, she just might go crazy.
That's foreshadowing, people.
Lucky for her, she finds a whole box of keys in one of the kitchen drawers. Forsaking the casserole she's just popped in the oven, she sprints up the creepy spiral staircase to the secret door and begins sticking keys into the little lock, one after another. After another. After another. And finally …
Nothing. None of those keys fit.
But wait! Maybe the previous owners hid the key along the door's cobweb-covered molding. Worth a try, right?
Sure enough, a key. She puts it in the door and …
The door swings open.
Dana walks in.
The door swings shut again and locks itself.
Dana now knows just how those bats in the wardrobe must've felt.
Dana and David are city folks by nature, but they're both hoping to recover from a family tragedy and give Lucas a bit of normalcy in his life. "A new beginning," David says of the move.
Alas, big, creepy, possibly haunted houses aren't necessarily the best locale to rekindle the safety and security your home life has been missing. Still, they do their best. David clearly loves Dana a great deal, and both would do almost anything for Lucas. But those bonds are naturally put to the test as the movie wears on.
Is the house haunted? Dana certainly thinks so. She sees spectral beings—from a little girl to an older distinguished gentleman to a scary black dog—wandering around the property. In their own creepy way, they communicate the house's terrible backstory.
Lucas has found a friend—a nice cat who (Lucas says) apparently told him that it'd protect him. Someone jokingly says, "Get behind me, Satan!"
As if Dana and David didn't have enough on their minds, they hire a local twentysomething handyman, Ben Phillips Jr., to repair a leaky roof. He's a handsome young chap, and as soon as David heads to the City on business for a few days, Ben starts making the moves on Dana. He flirts with her something awful, sometimes making suggestive double entendres. And while Dana has no interest in him at first, Ben's persistent flirting seems to wear her down.
David, for his part, has lost none of his attraction to his wife. When the pair eyes a strange set of mirrors facing each other near the door, Dana wonders why anyone would choose to place them there. David quips that maybe the previous owners had a "hot wife" and wanted to see as "many of her as possible." And when Dana jokingly tells David to "f--- off," David asks her if it's a promise or a threat.
We hear talk of a parent denying that a child—a child suffering from a physical deformity—is truly a product of the parent's "loins."
Through flashbacks, dreams, hallucinations and even in the real world, we see quite a bit of carnage. A couple of people are bludgeoned to death with a hammer, the head and claws of which strike head and skull and brain again and again (with commensurate levels of blood and gore). Someone seems to behead someone else, though the victim is later seen hanging by his neck from a tree. A dog apparently mauls a child. The attack isn't seen fully, but is communicated through screams, focused camera shots on the dog's mouth, and bloodied clothes and limbs. The not-entirely-whole body of a cat is found. Dana dreams that her son's hands and her belly are covered in blood.
Knives are brandished and sometimes used to threaten others. A baby dies. A disfigured corpse is discovered. Dead bodies—sometimes victims of suicide—are shown in old newspaper clippings, as are tales of mass murders that have been perpetrated, apparently, by ghosts. Someone tries to commit suicide, drawing a razor close to the wrist.
The story deals as a whole also deals with the idea of parents harming their own children.
Crude or Profane Language
About 10 f-words and at least four s-words. And to that hauntingly foul language we can add an utterance of both "a--" and "h---." God's name is misused a half-dozen times, once with the word "d--n." Jesus' name is abused once.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Dana smokes—something she tries to keep secret even from her husband. As such, when she shares cigarettes with Ben, there's a certain illicit intimacy in play.
She also takes prescription medication. Though we don't know exactly what those drugs are or what they're for, we do know that they're to combat some psychological issues that Dana has had in the past—perhaps to deal with depression, combat hallucinogenic episodes or both. We see her take pills before she eventually decides to dump the capsules down the toilet. (We later see her eyeing medicine bottles in cabinets, though … suggesting she has other forms of medication she could take or perhaps indicating an error in the movie's continuity.)
Dana also gets drunk. Another person in town is said to have had an alcohol problem as well.
Other Negative Elements
There were once, apparently, real disappointments rooms. Sometimes when well-to-do families had a child who was "off" in some way—deformed or disfigured physically, impaired mentally, or somehow deemed an "embarrassment"—they would hide these children from the public in these so-called disappointments rooms. Some of these poor children, the movie suggests, never were even allowed outside.
There's fodder for a tragic, terrible and terrifying story in those disappointments rooms. But this story? It's just plain terrible.
The Disappointments Room does lather on some creepy atmospherics: the dark, sprawling mansion, the lurking dog, the uncertainty over Dana's own sanity. But the story goes awry with both its plotting and problematic content. The makers try to do too much and wind up doing it all pretty poorly, then pile on the gore and a strange sexual tangent in the hopes that the audience might not notice.
In the end, The Disappointments Room likely won't please horror fans, and it's certainly a non-starter for discerning moviegoers. As such, perhaps this movie's title is fitting: It's a disappointment all the way 'round.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Kate Beckinsale as Dana; Mel Raido as David; Duncan Joiner as Lucas; Lucas Till as Ben; Gerald McRaney as Judge Blacker
September 9, 2016
December 20, 2016