Sunday, September 13, 2009

Overlooked DVD of the month - THE KILLING ROOM

Director Jonathan Liebesman followed up DARKNESS FALL and TCM: THE BEGINNING with a quiet psychological thriller called THE KILLING ROOM. It's an austere, tightly made, well-acted film that, while mining familiar material, still manages to hold our attention. The movie takes the same kind of approach as DAS EXPERIMENT - creating a fictional exploration of a real psychological experiment - in this case, the CIA's infamous MK Ultra programme. In the real life version, "volunteers" were subjected to mind-control experiments, often drug-induced, of the kind that led to Manchurian candidates. In this fictionalised version, four men have volunteered for a medical experiment run by the ruthless Dr Phillips (Peter Stormare) and the ambitious but morally uncertain Miss Reilly (Chloe Sevigny). They have to solve puzzles, and the man with the least correct guess is summarily executed. The prisoners try to outwit the system, and even escape, while the audience try to figure out what purpose such a sadistic experiment could serve. I liked the stark production design, gathering sense of claustrophobia, and Timothy Hutton's performance as one of the "volunteers". This movie is well worth a watch.

THE KILLING ROOM played Sundance 2009 and went straight to DVD.

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