THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM is exactly that
The Disappointments Room has everything I hate about isolated homes in the country and the fragile women who have no business being there.
The horror genre is rife with dilapidated homes, unstable mothers, and ghost children. Most of them are better than this movie – the Orphanage (2007), Half Light (2006).
Dana (Kate Beckinsale, Stonehearst Asylum (2014)) is moving with her husband (Mel Raido, Legend (2015)) and young son to the countryside. “New Beginnings”, her husband chirps, and they drive and drive to a ramshackle house so she can busy herself with a rebuild. We know the move is for Dana’s health because these movies are always for the woman’s health. When mentally unstable due to the loss of a child, isolate the women further by sending her out into the country away from everything she knows.
There is the usual gaslighting – no honey, we can’t just move, all of our money is in this house are you hearing things again – maybe I should call the doctor. I’m sure screenwriter Wentworth Miller believed he as writing the dialog of a sensitive husband worried about his wife. I’m also sure he knew he was writing the juvenile fantasies of a stay at home dad who plays video games and acts less as a dad and more as a live-in nanny. Dana still does the cooking and cleaning. She does everything, because she’s a working. It makes her seem like a strong woman not prone to hysterical flights of fancy.
I know how movies like this get written – someone reads something in a book or on the Internet and thinks it would be a great movie. Someone else writes the screenplay, sort of forgetting the original premise. The original idea is shoehorned into the existing screenplay as flashbacks. Throw in some quirky townspeople and creepy kids that talk to cats, and ghosts that no one else sees, ever. This movie is mess of disconnected ideas racing towards a distribution deadline.
It doesn’t work as a ghost-story or a psychological thriller. Unlike Shut In (2016), there isn’t any tension. All of the backstory is told through people who never contact the main characters again to pass along that information. I get the feeling neither screenwriter Wentworth Miller (Stoker (2013)) or director DJ Caruso (Disturbia, (2016)) never actually met an architect, or a woman, or people. Those professionals would never draw all over original house plans. Women who live in rural homes in the country don’t wear three-inch books. Responsible spouses don’t leave mentally unstable wives alone in an unfamiliar house for a few days in “the city”. Thank goodness, he needed the break from all of that smothering – ha!
I hate movies like this. Much like heroes aren’t spurned into action until their women are raped, women who lose babies can never be whole again. It’s like a law. They haunt homes as dilapidated as their psyches. They jump as shadows, snap at family, and ditch entire dinner parties where they may or may not kill someone. They uncover things all by themselves, never share and eventually their actions endanger everyone in a four-mile radius. Lots and lots of loose ends left dangling and in retrospect, you really don’t care about. These are not fun movies to watch. The audience spends a lot of time wondering why no one has any common sense. I wondered exactly how I found myself trapped in a dry kiddie pool for 92 minutes. Oh right. It’s my job. *sigh*
Look, if you want a movie that explores post-partum depression, maybe you don’t want a movie that gaslights it’s heroine into believe she’s losing her mind. Maybe don’t seek out settings where women are forced to chase their own psychologically nraveling tails for the sake of someone else’s comfort.
The DVD contains a brief featurette that skims the surface of the “true life” story of a turn of the 20th Century politically-minded judge and the unconfirmed rumor that he kept a daughter locked up for all of her life. It’s sensationalized and a little shrill, but if you’re the kind of person that hates to google your own information, you might enjoy it.
The Disappointments Room is rated R for people getting hit in heads with hammers and suffocated babies. This movie released to Digital HD and DVD release on December 20, 2016. If you absolutely must, see it for free.