October 9, 2016
Dana is an architect recovering from the death of their infant daughter Catherine. Her husband David decides that it would be a good idea for them to move out of the city and live in a old rural mansion which Dana could fix up. However, there are several strange and scary events that welcomed the couple and their 5-year old son Lucas once they moved in. While looking around the house, Dana discovers a hidden room in the attic which was haunted by the ghosts of a little girl and a stern-looking man. Vulnerable Dana begins to break down and teeter on the edge of sanity.
Kate Beckinsale has been a star for more than 20 years, but it seems her projects have been not so memorable in the past 10 years. Aside from "Pearl Harbor" (2001), "Serendipity" (2001) and "Underworld" (2003), you would be hard-pressed to name another movie of hers. Here, she tries her best to make her role as Dana work, may be trying to much. However, the role was written so badly she could not resuscitate it. Her overly manic performance during her big nervous breakdown scene came from out of nowhere. That said, she is the still the main reason to see this film (if you really want to).
Mel Raido, as the husband David, looked weak and useless beside Beckinsale. Duncan Joiner, the little boy actor playing her son Lucas, was mostly used to create false-alarm tension. "X-Men" actor Lucas Till played the supposedly sexy carpenter Ben, a puzzling character with no apparent use in the story at all. Gerald McRaney only needed to look stern to be scary Judge Blacker. The actors playing the shop owner and the lady in the real estate office were all inexplicably loud and hammy.
The concept of a Disappointments Room, a secret room where rich families used to hide deformed offspring, could have been promising as a horror device, just like post-mortem photography was for "The Others." However, script writer Wentworth Miller (yes, of "Prison Break" fame) failed to make the most of its potential, in terms of drama or in terms of horro. In the hands of director D.J. Caruso, who once had success with "Disturbia" (2007) and "I am Number Four" (2011), this film became a mishmash collection of every horror film cliche we had already seen before.
This had all the vintage horror props -- spooky rundown isolated old mansion with unkept gardens, a spooky spiral stairwell, spooky old painted portraits, spooky mirrors across each other, a spooky big black dog. It also had all the vintage horror scenes -- characters wandering alone outside in the dark, a kid talking to seemingly no one, nightmares mixed up with reality, phones not working, keys not working, husband conveniently away on a trip, a dinner party from hell.
You'd stay know how the story goes, but It was not too well told. It could have used a little more backstory about the former occupants of the house to have more impact. It could have done better in connecting the problem of Dana with the problem of the Judge. So much dramatic potential was wasted. It is not common that you come across a film with such a negative-sounding title. Before you go watch it, you'd worry if its title would actually be self-fulfilling. Unfortunately, this time it did. 4/10.