The Dark Room (2020) | Directed by Adrienne Lovette
Written by John Rice | Starring Lenny Thomas, Erica Camarano, Evelyn Wawrzyniak
Director Adrienne Lovette came to my attention through the release of her 2016 short horror/mystery film Hidden Daylight. A film that almost plays as a companion piece to The Dark Room, as it not only has some of the same cast, but most notably actor John Rice plays a psychic in both. The characters are very different, but Lovette is now carving out a name for herself in the horror genre as a director to definitely keep an eye on. Both films seem very similar in pacing and style and it’s easy to identify it was directed by the same person, which I always believe is a good thing.
The Dark Room revolves around a psychic party where five thirty-somethings gather for an evening of otherworldly shenanigans and the supernatural. The characters are slightly stereotyped. There’s the trailer trash couple, the young professional couple, and the dark, brooding individual. Each performance is ok to a degree, with the standout being Erica Camarano as Maribel.
Sam (John Rice), the host of the party, is obviously hiding a dark secret and his true intentions for the gathering. This unfortunately isn’t a spoiler as it’s extremely predictable from the off. The difficulties with a short film, even one such as this with a longer run time of 21 minutes, is that the pacing has to be on the money. I think that’s one of The Dark Room downfalls. The viewer is thrust into the story with character development all at once and without time to breathe. Too much happens too soon, which is a shame as it’s setting and cinematography is quite stunning. Everything was prepped for a gorgeous atmosphere and a spooky ghost story, but what’s executed is far too visual to be creepy.
Nothing about The Dark Room is bad, in fact it’s a thoroughly well directed short film, but I can’t help feel frustrated that there was a much better film in there somewhere. They say short films are the template for full features and I certainly feel this is the case here. If this was the test footage for what’s to come I’d genuinely be enthused.
Overall The Dark Room is a decent enough horror mystery. It treads seen-it-all-before horror tropes, but has enough style and high production values to satisfy a majority of horror fans.