Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Killing Room (2009)

Movie quotes:
"People will do anything to survive, don’t you think?"
- Dr. Phillips (Peter Stormare)

At a glance:
A thoroughly harrowing film, The Killing Room forces the viewer to observe innocent victims trapped in sadistic, government-sanctioned mind control experiments

Our review (with spoilers):
In the 1950s and 60s, the CIA conducted mind-control experiments that involved subjecting private citizens to deprivation, torture, and worse. These programs were officially ended in the 1970s. The Killing Game puts forward the fictional but believable notion that these programs have begun again (or never stopped), this time in response to the events of 911. We watch four innocent people, trapped in a room and subjected to horrific acts of torture and violence. Watching along with us is Emily Reilly (Chloe Sevigny), a rising star at the NSA with a special talent for military psychology. Reilly is there as an observer to prove to sadistic team leader Dr Phillips (Peter Stormare) that she is talented enough – and has a strong enough stomach – to join the team.

Having just watched a similarly themed film, The Chaos Experiment, I can state that Chaos got it wrong and Killing Room got it right. Chaos makes a brief attempt to give us background info about the four steam room inhabitants, in the hopes, perhaps, that we will sympathize. Killing Room makes no such attempt, and merely subjects us to the terror that is imposed upon the prisoners, with Reilly’s emotional reactions mirroring and intensifying our own. This would have been an intense thriller on its own, but it is intensified by the fact that it could be real – there is a sick and twisted logic in the end result of these experiments.

Rating: 3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Unremittingly gripping and unnerving, The Killing Room transforms a simple premise into an almost unbearably tense experience."
- Tim Grierson (Screen International)

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