Originally released in 2009, Room 33 is a low-budget affair that tries to mix the paranormal with the tried-and-true slasher genre. Although the movie does get props for attempting this mix, it nevertheless fails because the screenwriters rely on too many cliché elements. Room 33 also suffers from some poor directing, particularly when it comes to bringing any type of tension to the story.
The story brings together a couple (who claim they are not a couple) with a van of roller derby girls and their handlers. Chad (Chad Michael Collins) and Allie (Austin Highsmith) have crashed their car into a tree, but luckily the van shows up and the people inside agree to pick them up. The characters are created in broad strokes and all are clichés—there’s loner Natasha (Nicole Dionne), tough-as-nails Sarah (Nina Hauser), and naive Barbie (Kim Manning), along with their coach Nelson (Ace Gibson) and equipment manager and perv Steward (Adam Key).
With the disposables now set, the plot proper begins when the fan, running low on fuel (natch), hits a dead end. Right in front of the dead is a huge abandoned building. Not wanting to sleep in the van for the night, hotshot Sarah jumps the fence and breaks into a window while loner Natasha takes off down the road, her skates tearing up the asphalt. The motley crew set to exploring the place and soon encounter a terrified young girl named Roxy (Olivia Leigh), shies away from anyone and then starts to talk in a different, demonic voice.
In the meantime, Natasha encounters a ghostly man without eyes. This dude confronts her and then attacks, gouging out her eyes (there is no actual scene of this, but rather viewers will get the idea from the editing). When a deputy sheriff finds the couple’s abandoned car, he, too, is attached by the same ghostly dude.
The remainder of the film has the group encountering and falling prey to the apparition, all while Roxy throws out occasional dialogue clues about the possible source of the haunting. Allie, the smartest one in the group, finds out that the place is not really a retirement home but rather an insane asylum within which a group of unorthodox scientists experimented on patients using LSD. Roxy, a young lass when this happened, now channels the spirit of her dead father (the lead scientist). Although it is never made clear, it is possible that Roxy also used LSD and that somehow she has manifested the “id” of her father, which she uses to kill anyone who enters her domain.
The principal problem with Room 33 is its screenplay, written by Edward Barbini (executive producer of television fare such as Dirty Jobs and Airplane Repo) and Donnie Dale. Although the story’s overall structure is pretty good, the details are so muddy it is difficult to understand the reason for the “haunting.” Moreover, the screenwriters throw in too many red herrings, with characters popping up on occasion for little or no reason, to confuse the issue even more.
Working from his own screenplay, Barbini does an okay job as a director, moving the cast forward in a relatively bloodless affair. However, the plot holes in the screenplay are glaringly obvious.
The acting throughout is poor, but this is not a problem, as most slasher films have a group of cliché-ridden victims. The actors actually handle themselves pretty well, sticking to their cliché characters and in some instances chewing the scenery with what they have been given. The low budget keeps things to one location, but that’s okay, too.
What really bogs down this film is any lack of tension of overt horror. The movie’s murderous ghost (or id) is really not that scary, the kills are uninspired, and there is little blood and no gore.
There’s very little to recommend Room 33. Fans of the slasher genre may want to check it out, as it deviates from the genre in some ways, but the overall film will have such fans snoozing through most of the running time. There are glimmers of hope here and there, but in the end this one feels dead on arrival.
Available as a standalone item, Room 33 is also available in the anthology Big Box of Horror 15 Movies.