The Killing Room (2009)
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman
"The Most Valuable Asset Any Country Can Attain Is Control Of The Human Mind"
"Once You're In, There's No Way Out"
Those are the two taglines for The Killing Room. Which one do you like better?
Hint: One of them tells you what the movie is about.
Jonathan Liebesman (who directed Darkness Falls and TCM: The Beginning) new movie stars a collection of letter grade movie stars including Timothy Hutton, Clea Duvall, Chloe Sevigny and Nick Cannon. It's not your gore score or teenage slasher fodder flick. It's a highly intellectual psychological thriller that though simply made turns out highly effective.
The Killing Room is basically Cube without the elaborate traps and prime number mumbo jumbo. Instead we get other puzzles to keep our prisoners occupied. All in all, The Killing Room doesn't have the same pizazz as Cube but does make for an interesting watch.
Four volunteers sign up for what initially appears to be a typical paid research study, only to discover that they've unwittingly become involved with a classified government program that was said to have been terminated nearly two decades ago, in this tense psychological thriller.
We've all done psychological experiments in some form haven't we? I know I have when I was in college. In the experiment I participated in, they sat me in a room by myself and had me perform tasks, telling me another participant was performing the same test. I was suppose to match the same answers as the other person. I did the best I could, thinking this other person was in the same boat. From what I remember, he kept getting the answer wrong (and NO I didn't get an electric shock). It seemed he or she always got the answer wrong. By the end I was so frustrated I decided my answers would be random.
At the end of the experiment I was given some shocking news. There was no one actually taking the test with me. It was all a recording, the same recording they give to everyone. I'm not sure what the point was, maybe something to do with working with others or individualism. I just remember they paid me and I was a little ticked.
At least I didn't die.
That's not the case for our 4 participants in The Killing Room. Paul (Nick Cannon), Kerry (Clea Duvall), Crawford (Timothy Hutton) and Tony (Shea Whigham) sign up for an experiment like no other. They are given a written test while they are monitored by a Dr. Phillips (Peter Stormare) and Ms. Reilly (Chloe Sevigny). Seems the CIA has been performing these experiments in the past and they've restarted them again.
Suffice it to say, the new guneau pigs start the experiment with a shocker and it goes into survival mode from there. They are given questions in which their answers will determine who lives or dies. Cannon's Paul seems to be a the quiet, "do what they tell us" persona, while the others like Hutton's Crawford find a way out of this white painted prison room.
It's a slow burn that builds up the tension nicely. The elimination of each participant isn't that creative as Cube, but more like a Area 51 secret grounded reality. Many of the clues about why this is happening to them are laid out during the movie so attention to detail is important when watching.
As the chaos in the room heightens, Reilly and Dr. Phillips converse on the goals of the experiment. Sevigny's performance as she struggles with the moral and ethical issues of such a experiment is quite decent. Stormare (does he always play a doctor in a movie?) plays the calm doctor who even tries to legitimize the test by saying: "Somebody else is doing exactly what we're doing". Like Das Experiment and Breathing Room, its interesting to see how the doctors cope with their actions as well as the test subjects.
The gripes are a plenty with the movie as well when the reason for the experiment is made clear. I mean seriously. Are all these deaths necessary to recruit one subject? I think it would be a little more easier to get the information you needed.
Also, as much as this is a secret government project, a conspiracy of this magnitude I would think would be hard to control. I like to think people are the ultimate variable and that somebody would defect (though they would probably be killed if they did). Finally, it's proven that nothing can be controlled to a certainty, even a human being. Hmmm. I just think Americans are a little more indivualistic to a degree.
But then again, I don't live in the Midwest.
It's a good watch and it's now even playing on Showtime. It's funny how a movie like this goes under the radar when it stars a wide collection of somebodys. I think The Killing Room is a one of those movies that you watch, you get into it early on and then figure out if the ending has the kaboom your looking for. For me, it does. For you, well that's an answer you'll have to figure out yourself.
Don't worry, the wrong answer won't result in your death....well I hope not.
Some blood and gunshots
Phase 1 begins....you'll see.
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
What's Phase IV going to involve? That's what I want to know. The Killing Room is available on DVD via Amazon.com. I believe it's also on Showtime as well.
If your looking for a psychological mind bender, The Killing Room will test your IQ. Sometimes it's good to exercise your brain. Also, don't ever participate in any secret government medical experiments....just something to keep in mind.
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