Plot: A young couple moves into the house of their dreams which quickly becomes a living nightmare when they discover a dark secret awaiting them in the cellar. It has been locked up for years, trapped inside “The Black Room” and it wants out now!
Review: Oh, if only everyone else knew independent horror’s best kept secret: Rolfe Kanefsky, the writer/director of criminally undervalued and undiscovered fare such as There’s Nothing Out There, The Hazing, and Nightmare Man. I discovered him completely by accident when I went to see his four-walled exhibition of Nightmare Man in West Hollywood years ago. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I know the good stuff when I find it, and I can quite honestly say that Rolfe had a part in altering the course of my destiny as a film journalist because of that film. I loved Nightmare Man so much that I considered it my duty to watch everything he had made or written previously (which included quite a few soft-core late night cable movies), and then I made it my mission to track him down and start my career as a journalist. When Nightmare Man was eventually picked up by the After Dark 8 Horror Films to Die For series, I was thrilled that Rolfe’s hard work was finally getting seen by a wider audience, but since then he’s worked in other genres that don’t include horror. But, friends, let me tell you that he’s back with his signature style that is all his own with his first horror film in ten years: The Black Room! But that’s not all! The film also features the best cast he’s ever had (his previous film One in the Gun had an excellent cast as well), with Natasha Henstridge from Species in the lead, and with Lin Shaye, Dominique Swain, and Lukas Hassel rounding out the leads.
Henstridge plays Jennifer Hemdale (I love it, Rolfe!), whose handsome husband Paul (Hassel) finds them a lovely home to live in, but before they get there we already know that the house is definitely not safe. A “black room” in the basement is a portal to another dimension inhabited by a very horny devil. As soon as the Hemdales move in, the invisible demon possesses Paul and no one is safe from him: At first, Jennifer digs the swarthiness, but when his appetite becomes insatiable (and decidedly dangerous and unsettling), she is faced with the horrible truth: That the man she loves is no longer in control of his body. We all know that she must enter “the black room,” and once she gets there it’s like nothing she could have imagined, and we as the audience venture with her, and thanks to Rolfe’s sexy, slimy sensibilities, Jennifer (i.e. us) will never be the same…
One thing about Rolfe’s movies is that they’re all unconventionally sexy. Not only that, but they’re very well informed and enamored of the genre they’re in. Rolfe is a really good, savvy writer, and his favorite genre to write and direct (I’m assuming, but it’s a solid assumption) is the horror genre. Each of his horror films is different than the last one, and while they horrify, they also entertain on a grand level. They’re funny too. He utilizes practical special effects better than almost all of his contemporaries, and it’s a tragedy that he was never put in the same class as some of the “masters of horror” because he certainly deserves to be. The Black Room is sexy, scary, and original, and if you’ve never seen one of his movies, see this one. It’s fresh and vibrant, and it proves that he’s still at the top of his game.
The Blu-ray from MVD Visual contains an audio commentary by Rolfe and Henstridge, and there are bloopers and over 30 minutes of deleted or extended scenes. Well worth owning for fans of the genre.