19th Mar2019

‘Doom Room’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Johanna Stanton, Nicholas Ball, Debbie Rochon, Matthew Tompkins, Hayden Tweedie, Katie Kensit, Sal Esen, Claire Jared, James Simmons, Scott Christie | Written by Jon Keeyes, Carl Kirshner | Directed by Jon Keeyes

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Jon Keeyes is a name that has popped up a lot in genre cinema discussion recently, mainly due to his film The Harrowing gaining traction within the horror community. I’m guessing that’s the reason that Wild Eye chose to go back into Keeyes’ oeuvre for their latest release, Doom Room, which was originally made back in 2013 under the title of Nightmare Box.

The film sees a woman (Johanna Stanton_ wake up locked in a small room with no memory of how she arrived there. Unable to escape, and tormented by a series of paranormal entities, she must uncover the riddle of who she is and how she got here…

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking Doom Room is another Saw clone, with a character trapped in a room with no way out. It’s just a matter of waiting for the puzzle-solving to begin. But whilst there is a puzzle to solve here, it’s certainly not of the enigmatic variety. Instead the puzzle is just what the hell is going on here?!

Part dark twisted fairytale, part horrific Christmas Carol pastiche, one of the standouts of Doom Room – besides the intriguing premise and well-plotted story – is the freakish set design in the titular room itself. Filled with creepy skulls, odd trinkets, clocks and a myriad of dolls strewn around, the set design adds the the nightmarish scenario that plays out on screen, helping to keep the creepy vibe going when the characters don’t. Though there’s nary a second that someone or something weird and/or creepy isn’t on the screen, attacking our un-named heroine.

Speaking of dolls, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that features Barbie and Ken dressed up in S&M bondage gear before; or a Santa in a gimp mask for that matter!

But back to the mysterious “vistors” who attack and help out heroine in equal measure. There’s the helpful innocent girl (Hayden Tweedie), the girl with no eyes who’s oblivious to her surroundings (Katie Kensit), the pious man of god (James Simmons) who belittles our heroine for her sexuality, and then there’s the husband and wife (Matthew Tompkins and Debbie Rochon respectively) who take our “Jane Doe” on a psycho-sexual S&M trip…

Now, given that I’ve seen a myriad of similar psychological horrors of this ilk (though the fact Keeyes film hads taken six years to be released probably hasn’t helped this films premise, which has been utilised a number of times in the intervening years), it was actually quite easy to determine what was really going on in Doom Room. To an extent. It’s really not hard to piece together that each person who interacts with Johanna Stanton’s nameless heroine is actually a part of her psyche, but the real reason why she’s experiencing this horror is the true enigma of Doom Room.

And when that truth is revealed it takes the film to a whole new level, as you realise what we’re watching is in fact the… well, to say would spoil the power and the impact of Jon Keeyes and Carl Kirshner stunning story. A story that, in the current climate, is all too real and all to raw. Maybe that six year delay has actually given the film more of an impact…

Doom Room is out now on VOD from Wild Eye Releasing. Make sure you track this British horror down!

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