Movie Review: The Killing Room (2009)

What happens when you can’t be bothered to walk upstairs and get another DVD from the office? You end up flicking through the movie channels. Fortunately for me, The Horror Channel is free with the full Sky package. If you like lesser known horror films then you can often find something enjoyable on there.

Well anyway, by chance I tuned in just as The Killing Room was starting. A quick check on IMDB revealed the cast list and I was sold. Peter Stormare, Clea DuVall and Nick Cannon were enough to convince me to watch.

The Killing Room follows a group of people who are participating in what they think is a Psychological study, it soon becomes apparent that they are involved in something far more sinister. Peter Stormare plays, as he invariably does, a shady foreigner (Not xenophobic, just an observation) Nick Cannon plays a quiet participant as does Clea DuVall. The remaining test subjects are played by Academy Award winner, Timothy Hutton and Shea Whigham. The whole thing is rounded off with the new recruit to Stormare's secretive agency, Chloƫ Sevigny who is being rigorously put through her paces in a job interview to top them all!

The Killing Room's plot focuses on a secret CIA research facility which looks to be continuing the work from the 1950's and 60's known as Project MKULTRA. This projects' goal in reality were ultimately unclear but the film can take any approach it wants. On the one hand you have a valid study to try and use mind control (as valid as that can be?) but on the other, you have various techniques involving torture. However you look at it, it’s no wonder why there was so much fuss surrounding the original studies in the 50’ & 60’s. I will say if you like conspiracy theories, have a little read. It's quite interesting.

The film's dialogue leaves a lot to be desired but the very able cast more than makes up for that short coming. Some very convincing performances, most notably from Hutton who plays the "been there done that" character and despite the lack of personal involvement, his character, Crawford may be the one the audience connects with the most. Cannon plays Paul Brodie, a seemingly quiet kid who is looking for a bit of fast cash. His character grows throughout the film and ultimately becomes one of the main protagonists. All in all I think the whole cast gives a good performance and one which you can feel sympathy for. Let’s face it, if you don’t feel empathy for the characters then someone isn’t trying hard enough! The customary OTT performance from the brilliant Stormare finishes everything off nicely.

Despite not really being a horror film, The Killing room does have its shock moments and it is one that I would have bought if I had seen in the shops. Having done the rounds at Sundance and then (I believe) released straight to DVD it didn’t receive the kind of publicity that maybe the cast should have demanded. This was very unfortunate as I really enjoyed it and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys atmospheric thrillers.

Released: 2009
The Killing Room (2009) on IMDb
My Rating: 6.5

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