Movie Review: A Room to Die For (2017)
A Room to Die For (2017)
Director: Devanand Shanmugam
Cast: Loren Peta, Michael Lieber, Christopher Craig
Synopsis: A young couple rent a room from an elderly couple who aren’t quite as harmless as they seem.
WARNING! This review contains SPOILERS! (If you’ve never seen a horror movie before).
Movies about couples in peril in their new home seem to be something of a fad at the moment, and the latest comes from Devanand Shanmugam, whose A Room to Die For has a neat idea that’s scuppered by poor acting and writing. Michael Lieber and Loren Peta play Mark and Jill, a couple impoverished by his desire to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian, even though he’s about as funny as a psychopathic pensioner, which, funnily enough, is an appropriate description of Henry Baker (Christopher Craig – The Family) who, together with Josephine (Antonia Davies), the equally dangerous wife on whom he dotes, is leasing out the room Mark and Jill will one day wish they never rented.
It becomes apparent shortly after moving in that Henry is a worryingly unstable type prone to violent rages when his petty demands aren’t met, and that he has taken a strong dislike to Mark. He’d probably like him even less if he knew him as well as we do: for some reason – perhaps unintentionally – Shanmugam and co-writer Matthew J. Gunn turn him into the weakest kind of worthless wretch imaginable, a spoiled man-child who seems to spend more time watching porn than working on his act while Jill toils at a call centre. He might not deserve the fate that befalls him after he goes off in search of the source of a baby’s cries that ring through the house at the same time every day, but by then we simply don’t care about him. Julie is a stronger character, but she’s only marginally more sympathetic due largely to the ham-fisted way the film chronicles the slow erosion of their relationship under the pressure of living with the Bakers.
In fact, it has to be said that Henry and Josephine are a far more interesting couple than Mike and Julie, and it’s a shame we don’t get to spend more time with them. Henry is a particularly chilling character whose age and ill-health should render him harmless, but his outbursts of barely controlled rage, alternating with moments of strangely childlike vulnerability, transform him into a truly intimidating monster. Consequently, Christopher Craig’s performance overshadows that of the rest of the small cast, even though the standard of his acting rarely surpasses that of his fellow cast members. To be honest, the standard of acting is barely adequate much of the time, although it’s only really a major problem in a couple of scenes.
(Reviewed 7th March 2017)