Thursday, February 19, 2009

Room 205

There are some movies you shouldn’t watch after taking a significant amount of codeine (doctor’s orders, just to be clear. Room 205 is one of those. It took almost two hours for me to watch the first 11 minutes of this, as the movie and the codeine conspired to repeatedly put me to sleep.

Room 205 is a 2007 Danish film (originally called Kollegiet). Katrine, possibly the meekest woman on earth, goes away to college and moves into a dorm filled with some of the rottenest students on the planet. Her new dorm-mates are led by Sanne, who is the type of person that only exists in movies. She lives to treat everyone around her cruelly, and in real life, would have been the victim of a massive murder conspiracy long before these events. The only person who is half-way decent to Katrine is the resident stud, Lukas, who is nice to her long enough to score, and then treats her like the rest. Throughout the mistreatment, it never occurs to Katrine to stand up for herself.

It seems that Sanne’s room (#205, coincidentally the title of the film) is haunted. Years earlier, a girl living in the room was gang-raped and murdered in the bathroom, and since then, her spirit has been trapped in the mirror. I have to say, this movie does not paint the most pleasant picture of Danish dorm life. Katrine accidentally breaks the mirror with her blood (!), releasing the vengeful spirit, and she goes to work wreaking revenge on the hapless students. She does this mostly by hanging around and glowering at them until they have a fatal accident, getting their head caught in an elevator door, stabbing themselves through the eye with a piece of glass, or something. Katrine and her fellow outcast Rolf must reassemble the mirror and trap the spirit back where she belongs before she glowers at them.

This is one of the slowest-paced movies I’ve ever seen. Minutes pass with nothing happening, without hardly any dialogue. When a character walks down a hallway, you get to follow her every lethargic step of the way. Many of the scenes are deliberately shot at least partially out of focus, which I guess is supposed to lend an air of surrealism, but mostly just induces a headache.

The torpid pace might be excusable if the time was spent developing the characters, but they remain stereotypical enough to be summed up in a word or two. Katrine is a milquetoast, Sanne is a bitch, Lukas is a horndog, and Rolf is a wimp. Even in the penultimate scene where one character chases another through the dorm, they both seem mainly bored. By the way, one thing this movie has in common with American films is the actors look five to ten years too old for their parts.

The DVD for this was issued through Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert’s Ghost House imprint, and later this year the company will produce an American version, tentatively to be called The Dorm. This is one case where I’m betting the remake will be better than the original.

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