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  • Let me start by saying that a lot of what you're about to read may seem like spoilers, but all of the following plot information is given within the first 10 minutes of the movie.

    In this movie, the CIA's secret "MK-Ultra" mind-control experiments of the '70s (which really did occur) seem to still be in operation. Four civilians answer a classified ad seeking volunteers for medical testing, only to be locked in a room together and subjected to psychological and some physical torture, plus a little death. This is not "torture porn" though, and aside from a couple of run-of-the-mill gunshots, it actually doesn't involve much graphic violence at all.

    While there have been many "locked in a room together for a mysterious and violent experiment" movies, this one is different in that it's told primarily from the perspective of an observer: a doctor who is interviewing for a position at the organization. She has no idea what she's about to observe when she arrives, so she joins the audience in horror as the various aspects of the experiment are revealed.

    This movie has a lot of problems. The writing, mainly the dialog, seemed a bit lackluster, but the competent acting compensated somewhat for that. I also found the use of the shaky camera a little annoying, as was the use of a few little fake-out sequences meant to make the audience go, "Oh, she was only imagining that." You know the kind.

    Also, the employees operating the experiment would communicate via crackly radio, using lots of military mumbo-jumbo ("echo-2 commence stimulus foxtrot, wilco"), which seemed almost laughably inappropriate, and disproportionate to coordinating closed-room experiments. It sounded like they were an airport tower trying to land planes in a blizzard. It struck me as overly melodramatic, trying too hard to make it sound like a military operation.

    But for all its problems, this movie will surprise you in the end with its relevance. I'm still feeling it sink in. The ending made this movie entirely worth watching (if not good), which I'm glad I did. There isn't much I can say about it without spoiling it, so I'll just say that it's often our artists -- our filmmakers, our writers -- who tell us where we might be headed. Sorry if that sounds cryptic. You'll have to watch the movie. :)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Killing Room starts as four ordinary volunteers who have signed up to be part of a psychological research experiment & lead into a small white room, the four strangers have never met each other before & that each get on with filling in a questionnaire. A Dr. Phillips (Peter Stormare) enters the room & give a little speech about the purpose of the study & then suddenly takes out a gun & shoots one of the volunteers through the head killing her. Panic sweeps the room & Dr. Phillip's leaves, the door is locked behind him leaving the three remaining volunteers trapped inside with a dead body. All part of an extreme experiment to test how far a person can be pushed casualties were inevitable, but what is the ultimate purpose of the experiment & who does Dr. Phillip's work for?

    Directed by Jonathan Liebesman this psychological thriller apparently had the working title Manbreak & tires to be clever & even a little topical by using emotive issues & themes that are reported all to regularly in the world's media, while it tries to be shocking & clever it isn't & I have to say I thought it was pretty crap. For the first 80 odd minutes of this 90 odd minute film there's little to talk about, four people in a very bland white room, one gets killed with the majority of the rest of the time just spent on them talking with scenes of Dr. Phillip's & his scientist mates (we know they are scientist's because they wear long white laboratory coats even though there's no laboratories anywhere to be seen) watching them & as a counter balance to their coldness fresh young recruit Emily Reilly doesn't like what she see's, this goes on & on for what seems like hours. At least in a film like Saw there traps & puzzles while here in The Killing Room there is nothing & it's incredibly dull & repetitive to watch. Then there's the final 10 minutes, oh God the final 10 minutes. It turns out that the nasty US Government are running this strange experiment to find the next wave of homegrown suicide bombers or civilian weapons as the men in suits (& long white laboratory coats) call them. What on Earth makes the them think putting people though this will suddenly turn them into suicide bombers? It's a reach stretch to say that because someone is willing to sacrifice themselves in a very controlled situation that they will then happily commit suicide for you & kill potentially thousands of innocent people in the process. Aren't suicide bombers fanatics & extremist's that would be willing to die for their cause? The twist just doesn't work & the idea of using the subject of suicide bombers as a cheap twist is in bad taste, The Killing Room is a film with a twist that tries to have a point & meaning but comes across as not having a damned clue. The character's are as lifeless & basic as you can imagine, it's hard to root for any of the volunteers & the scientist's (hey, they do wear those laboratory coats so they are scientist's) come across as very cold & inhuman. I suppose the 'now for phase 2' ending leaves things open for a sequel, I shudder the very thought.

    Event though 90% of The Killing Room is set in a single, plain white run of the mill room director Liebesman still manages to make this thing look ugly with a constantly twitching camera, fast edits & deliberately out of focus extreme close-up foregrounds obscuring the character's. There's a bit of blood splatter but no real violence or gore worth mentioning. An extremely repetitive, bland & dull film with a ridiculous twist that didn't work The Killing Room is also lacking in tension & suspense as my major emotion while watching it was boredom. Also I don't know if it was just my copy but a lot of the dialogue sounded muffled as the three volunteers whispered to each other in increasingly panicked tones, I actually found it quite hard to understand what was being said on many occasions.

    Filmed in late 2007 The Killing Room wasn't released anywhere until 2009 & it's easy to see why there were no takers for over a year, not a very good film & not a particularly easy sell as nothing really happens in it. It would certainly be hard to cut a decent trailer for it that made it look exciting. The acting is alright & rather surprisingly Nick Cannon is actually the husband of pop superstar diva Mariah Carey. Timothy Hutton once won an Oscar while Peter Stormare is better than this.

    The Killing Room is a terrible psychological thriller that tries to be clever & shocking & emotive, it fails. A really boring thriller set in a single room full of faceless character's & a dumb twist ending just to round off the torment.
  • hudsonda421 September 2014
    Sorry but I use headphones and pretty much any movie like this one is impossible to watch.

    The Actors whisper their lines as quiet as possible and then screaming blaring sound effects.

    So if you want to watch this movie with headphones, you have to keep your finger on the volume and crank it from 25% to 100% back to 25% back to 100%. Stop, rewind crank the volume and hear what they said. Crank it back down to 25% because your eardrums are being blown.

    After having to rip the headphones off three or four times because of it going from actors who are whispering to extremely loud sound effects I just gave up. Screw this movie.
  • In this review I shall not go deeply into the plot, as I believe that the viewer will benefit from knowing as little of the narrative as possible, seeing as the script offers many twists and turns to any film-goer looking for thrills, and the film delivers on its dark premise, and then some.

    While films where a group of characters are manipulated and tested upon in many a sadistic and calculated manner have been all the rage since the Saw series, (comparisons to the franchise wouldn't be completely unfounded) this movie has a somewhat different approach to all the torture porn of late by relying on mind-games to get its thrills. Thanks to the swift pace, taut direction and believable cast, this is pulled off tremendously well.

    The plot concerns under-the-radar experiments by a government-tied group (the purpose of which not revealed to the viewer until later) on a group of random volunteers. It starts off innocently enough when they are asked to fill out a form of questions, but things take a sudden turn for the sinister, and the group starts acting upon instinct. However they are constantly being scrutinised by a team of psychologists, and through conversations with the leader of the project and a talented new employee, we learn that their every move is anticipated and prepared for. This creates a sense of impending doom, and brilliantly we, the viewer, feel like we are observing them along with their captors.

    The performances are incredibly strong and plausible, and as we learn more about the characters and their motives, the suspense and drama feels all the more engaging. While the idea that experiments like this are still being carried out to this day (the film is based upon real experiments conducted by the CIA in the 60's and 70's) is completely impossible, the script makes it feel completely possible. The whole film twists and turns sharply, making for some genuine bite-your-nails, edge-of-your-seat stuff, something which has been missing from thrillers lately.

    For fans of this sort of fare, I wholeheartedly recommend this as what is going to be one of the best thrillers of this year. Hell, even if you don't like the genre usually, I think that you should give this a watch. The film will grip you throughout the entirety of its running time until it twists the knife one last time and leaves on a brilliantly sinister note.
  • catfish-er13 November 2009
    I saw THE KILLING ROOM on Showtime last night. I found it to be a very unique suspense/thriller.

    Not since THE CUBE have I seen such a truly unique, original movie like the KILLING ROOM. The action and tension never lets up. Your mind is always trying to guess what's going to happen next. The characters are compelling. And, the actors' performances are incredibly strong.

    The premise, which includes the CIA's secret "MK-Ultra" mind-control experiments of the '70s adds credibility. As such, I found the movie completely plausible.

    The more we learn about the characters; and, their motives, the more the suspense; and, drama intensifies. It was very engaging.
  • To repeat what I read in a previous review-- what did he say? The dialogue consists of a lot of whispering with cuts to much louder sound effects and screaming, forcing you to keep the volume remote in hand. Or, in my case, leading to apologies to the neighbors for the intermittent screaming last night.

    More to the point, what did the movie say? It's a suspense/thriller, which keeps you waiting and really hoping that the ending pays you back for the time invested. This movie doesn't. The ending forces the viewer to realize how implausible the whole premise is.

    I won't spoil the ending except to say that the ending is spoiled by the time you get to it.
  • Another film, based in one room, in which 4 people are eliminated to one, told from the perspective of a behavioural psychologist observing the experiment. The experimentees are promised $250 each for completing the 1 day 8 hour test but have no idea what the experiment is or who is behind it. The film starts out with a lot of promise - after the irony behind the traps in the Saw franchise the ingenuity bar has been set reasonably high already. Factor in the cult success of Cube and this film is branching into a cornered market. But then again that really is the problem: apart from 1 of 2 cheap jumps there is barely any glint of originality in either the script, performances or concept. The director has done OK with limited material yet even overlooking the often mumbled dialogue (really, why they whisper so much is utterly baffling) and the frequently massive jumps to conclusions that seem to be spontaneously materialising out of thin air, there is still nothing here to shout about. As other reviews point out, the walkie talkie commentary gets annoying quickly but thats not the biggest of the many flaws. Without the gore of Saw we need good three dimensional relatable characters whereas The Killing Room presents us with cardboard victims on the assumption that for some unknown reason we will guess who's going to survive and indeed, care. It's painfully obvious from the start who's going to win, what interested me was how the doctor would react to the unfolding events. Well, that plot line goes nowhere interesting - so that was a wasted mental effort on my part. The only positive from this film is that it's all over very quickly. There's a totally predictable twist ending and a wider social commentary element that falls flatter than Kansas.
  • Alex_NLD2 October 2009
    Although it isn't one of the top films I've yet seen I found this one worth watching. It is a sort of mind-game movie. It was only at the last few minutes that you truly understand what the hell you had to make of it all.

    One of the reviewers said it was a waste of time saying that is was for the most part filmed in one room and the low budget statement. Well, let's watch 12 Angy Man, to my opinion one of the best movies ever, there is only one room where the entire movie plays out!

    If you like mind-game movies, thriller and secret organization performing (brutal,but not sick-) mind game experiments (where people do die) you should watch this one.
  • jazz212229 October 2009
    I have to say, for a lower budget/independent psychological horror film, this one was probably one of the better ones I've seen. It's about four people who answer an ad to do some paid research. They are sent into a room, asked to fill out a questionnaire, and then greeted by the man running the 'test.' Without going into any detail, as soon as he explains what's going on, things change and begin to spiral out of control. Very intense and fascinating to watch. Nick Cannon isn't the greatest actor, but I thought he played his part very well in this. I also thought Chloe Sevigny was fantastic in her part, as well. This one is definitely worth a go. Rent it if you have a Netflix/Blockbuster Online account.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Four people are brought into a room for an unnamed experiment. What they don't know is that the experiment concerns the breaking point of of people and that there is a very good chance none of them will ever get out of the room alive. At the same time the doctor running the experiment is looking to certify a new assistant.

    Okay thriller works, I think, more because its oblique, rather than because things make complete sense. I say this because there was a couple of times when I had questions about why somethings happened. I have to add that the cast is excellent and helps to make this worth trying. Honestly I'm kind of mixed about the film and I've been going back and forth about recommending it. I have no opinion other than you're on your own.
  • ccharlie1832 December 2010
    I just finished watching this movie and i was surprised at how good it was. in fact is was so good I'm on here trolling about it. but really 5.4 average?? are u kidding me. this movie is much better than a 5.4, what were they expecting a cheesy slasher horror movie or something. this movie was brilliant, shocking, unpredictable and gritty. none of the acting seemed off the movie is set in one room(well 2) which doesn't require a huge budget but it let them polish it up more with what they had to work with. I'm not saying this is perfect but its definitely going to be a cult classic if they refrain from making sequels or if they make an adequate sequel. don't let the IMDb average fool you. this movie is a must see for anyone who likes movies.

    many won't like the ending because they are too pampered into only enjoying movies with happy Hollywood endings, if u are one of these people avoid this movie if u are not I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
  • I just finished the movie and decided to check what it stated on IMDb.

    Like always, movies are underrated or overrated at IMDb.

    Yes, this is a low budget movie, but the storyline (though it contains holes) is very decent. People who say this is a Saw rip-off, it is most definitely not. I enjoyed Saw I, but the rest of the Saw movies aren't particularly good. This movie is purely about cinematic content, not about Hollywood gruesomeness and brutal mutilation etcetera. If there is a sequel to this in the future, I don't think I'm going to watch it, because that would ruin it for me, I'm sure. But this movie was never set out to be a box-office hit, and I think that was never the intention. So I trust in them to leave it at this film, and not for them to make a cheesy sequel.

    So if you enjoy a good storyline, it is worth your while.
  • This is a good suspenseful movie. I was left entrenched and also conflicted. Conflicted in that, I found myself vacillating among which protagonists I was routing to succeed through rigors of the 'experiment.' The movie also reminds me of the Michael Douglas movie the Game with a government espionage twist to it. As the experiment is alluded to be one of a test of apoptosis, Not sure if it's quite apoptosis in this context as apoptosis is programmed cell death, but I like the attempt at a scientific angle.

    Overall, a suspenseful, interesting movie, that makes you think, what would I do if I were in the same situation. Most likely be in the 19/20 group of people.
  • dune_30016 July 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    I wanted so much to like this film. The premise sounded great and it really is the kind of movie I usually enjoy. Unfortunately, the tag line was the best part of this, it all when downhill from there. The story was bland and unappealing and the "big" twist at the end just makes you wanna slap the screenwriter.

    *Spoiler ahead* I guess they thought they were pretty clever by diverting expectations and showing the audience some stuff that doesn't actually happen. But instead it just makes the main character look like a heartless bitch. Which is even worse, as they previously showed her actually having a conscience.

    And the absolute WORST of all this was the sound constantly shifting from "barely audible" to "ear drum shattering". What the hell?! i couldn't make out what they were saying half the time. For a movie that has intellectual pretences, that is bad. So, so bad.
  • quinnox-118 April 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a horrible movie, and a total waste of time. Its about a secretive MK-ULTRA group that is apparently above the government, and their program to recruit suicide American bombers to use against terrorists. How they do it is by running a series of bizarre tests which include randomly killing the candidates if they fail to answer obscure trivia questions correctly. Yup, that is the plot line. How ridiculous and lame can you get. I hated this movie. It sucked in an epic way and I can't think of one good thing to say about it. The director, producer and writer of this movie should be ashamed of themselves!

    Worst movie I have seen in a long time.
  • ......................................................from Pasto,Colombia...Via: L.A. CA., CALI, COLOMBIA and ORLANDO, FL

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

    Let me set the record straight regarding KILLING ROOM's AUDIO! Many reviewers complain about the sound. "Couldn't understand!", "Needed Captions!", they protest! Believe me, as an amateur expert, everything "Audio" here is exquisite; it just doesn't get any better! Is the dialog hard to follow? You bet it is! And this is EXACTLY what 32 year-old South African Director Jonathan Liebesman(Darkness Falls/Rings) wanted! Stress/Tension levels tend to go through the roof when you're under constant duress about having missed something crucial. Don't worry. You won't!!!!

    KILLING ROOM does have similarities to most of the films it's compared to here. However, IMO it bears, by far, the greatest similitude to Spain's La HABITACION De FERMAT(FERMAT's ROOM). FOUR nothing-in-common strangers have responded to a Want Ad for "Test Subjects". From the get-go, they're told that "They will be given $250 each, for their participation/ co-operation. One by one they will be eliminated from the experiment. However, they ALL will receive $250, irrespective of the order of their elimination!" What someone SHOULD have requested was: "Define ELIMINATION"!

    Surprisingly well done ensemble acting, with Timothy Hutton, Chloe Sevigny and Peter Storemare the most noteworthy examples. If KILLING ROOM had not lost its iron grip on me for a few minutes about 3/4 through, I would have rewarded it with 10*...A real shame, that! Part Psychological Drama/Suspense, part Mystery/Thriller, part Dark Morality Play, and the fourth component is what makes KILLING ROOM totally unique, makes it stand out head and shoulders above the pack! Unfortunately, the simple act of revealing it would serve as a definite SPOILER!...So you'll just have to see KILLING ROOM for yourselves, won't you?


    Any comments, questions or observations, in English or Español, are most welcome!
  • Scarecrow-8814 November 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    There's been a host of films with the plot of "people trapped in a room", regarding human lab rats run through a series of experiments, until one survivor remains. Movies instantly coming to mind include, "Saw", "Cube", and "House of 9". Really, "The Killing Room" is no different, except in this movie we get an understanding as to who is behind the experiments. Four civilians are selected to fill out forms for a little money to answer some questions and act as guinea pigs for what they believe are relatively harmless experiments..what they can not possibly expect is that they are in for a horrifying experience, trapped in a room with no truly available exits. Sure there are escape attempts, but as we see on the outside, preventative measures have already been established to stop them. The lab rats include Timmothy Hutton, Nick Cannon, Shea Whigham(Splinter), and Clea Duvall..gnarly, eclectic cast, although one of them is killed right away to prove a point, with the remaining trio trying to figure out their situation and how to resolve it. Questions, and a gun, are sent into the plain white room with a bullet proof window(..the window is there for a purpose I will explain in a moment)through a slot in a locked door. Whoever answers the question correctly, lives, until one remains. Looking on from other rooms are Dr. Philips(Peter Stormare, stolid, with a bubbling intensity just seething underneath the surface)and his possible new recruit, Ms. Reilly(Chloë Sevigny), chosen because of her reputation for being ruthless and cold. We see, for a long time, that the situation developing before her disturbs and bothers her, although she tries intently to hide it. While those in the killing room are being tested, we can see she is as well. An indoctrination is taking place and we soon discover that this process has a lot to do with the enemy, given birth as the planes were flown into the World Trade Centers.

    I honestly believe many will find this to be rather generic material, rather familiar and derivative. While we discover as the movie continues just why these terrible acts are taking place by Americans to Americans, in such a cold-blooded fashion that it sours your stomach, and the fact that those committing such deeds have an agenda which differs from those of other films of it's ilk like "House of 9" or "Cube", there are also striking similarities which I feel will leave many a viewer feeling rather ho-hum over the whole deal. The ending and the inner turmoil, developing as tensions and fear arise, is very akin to those examples I have mentioned. Good cast salvage the plot, especially Chloë Sevigny, because, like those trapped inside their own cell, she's battling a lot of personal emotions as well. Does she attempt to help them, or will Ms. Reilly join this covert operation, a secret project the government keeps silent for a purpose of engaging the enemy in a whole unique way, fighting fire with fire. Since Splinter has become an indie hit, many horror fans have discovered Shea Whigham, and I imagine they will be just as impressed with him here, maybe even more so. Hutton's presence here adds some major name power to the cast, which I imagine will have those who haven't heard about this movie, tuning in to see what it's all about. Cannon goes ghetto, and remains pretty much a frightened child throughout.
  • raven_1-122 December 2009
    I hate this type of film; it really annoys me.

    I'm not talking about the acting, the script or even the storyline. Its the dialogue; I could hardly make out what the characters were saying, they just seemed to mumble their way through. Or is it the editing? No idea, but what could have been a decent film was ruined by the incomprehensible dialogue.

    And it wasn't just me. A group of us watched it and after 30 minutes we just stopped the DVD because half of the time none of us could work out what the actors were saying. This is a shame as it seemed like a good film and from what other commentators are writing (who clearly are not as hard of hearing as we are!) it seems that it had a good ending and was well worth the wait.

    PS. The military 'speak' I found annoying as well; you know: Foxtrot Lima has expedited the questionnaire, his pen is three inches from the sheet and closing, 1 second to contact, Alpha Zulu out......etc etc..
  • It's true, especially in the first 30 minutes of this film it is frequently very hard to tell what the actors are saying. There is also, throughout the whole film, a Nasa space mission type of control room patter that is rather bogus.

    Muttering and whispering in a "wet" room sound wise is a big problem and when you have to struggle to hear what's being said in a movie that is mostly about the dialog,well you have to say, hey guys remix the movie or something.

    The problem continues off and on every once in awhile you'll feel like "rewinding" to re-hear a line but it still won't make sense, so just go with it. It's a major problem in what in many ways is a good film.

    The director is responsible, well mostly responsible as they re-shot and re-edited much of DARKNESS FALLS. A truly bad film that is senseless, joyless, thrill-less. If I had known he'd directed that I would have not even watched this. Which would have been too bad for me.

    This one is a giant improvement and worth a look. Actors are good, despite the muttering or let's just blame that on the post production sound people. Story has elements like those in LOST and I guess it's a bit like SAW only this time the reason for them being trapped is for some greater cause and the gore elements are not there.

    It does feel like a movie, despite being almost entirely set inside of several different rooms. There are some quibbles you can take with the experiment. But that's OK, as they could just be wrong about what they are trying to do and how they do it. The real world MK experiments didn't lead to the results they'd hoped they would either. So I think it's fine if certain viewers would say "That's a bogus experiment." That's part of the cruel point of the film. Give it a try, maybe wearing headphones would help.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was intrigued very early in the film when it was revealed that the proceeding would have some relation to the clandestine MKULTRA program ran by the Office of Scientific Research for the U.S. government in the 1950s and 60s. Ostensibly the MKULTRA program had to do with intense chemical and psychological experimentation done on U.S. citizens in order to discover how the mind and conscience-sub-conscience state could be manipulated. Speculation with regard to mind control ran rampant in the mid 1970s when the MKULTRA program was made public after investigations by the Church Committee. Most MKULTRA files were destroyed in the early 1970s; Some have come to light under FOIA requests. No one knows if the program is still active or not.

    That frightening conspiracy is revealed to be, early on, the driving force behind ,Killing Room. Top notched profiler and all around psychoanalyst bad-ass Ms. Rielly, portrayed convincingly by Chloë Sevigny, opens the film by meeting with the head of an un-named organization for an on-the-job interview. She has been mysteriously highly recommended for a place in the un-named organization for her unique skills. Apparently she is near clairvoyant in her observatory psy-deductive abilities – so much so that it is impossible for a person to ever lie to her. She is apparently the psychological equivalent to Sherlock Holmes. That introduction sounded interesting to me, but I hope you don't really like the idea and perhaps hope for something to come of it. Her super-human skill set is not mentioned again nor ever comes into play for the duration of the movie. A handful of times she is asked for her observations and gives satisfactory textbook answers.

    Ms. Reilly is asked to watch a drama unfold on tape and give her reactions. The tape shows the occupants of a room being subjected to intense psychological testing. Omnipresent two-way radio chatter give the proceedings a military feel. During this time we learn a very little background of the organization, that the test is taking place in what is called A Killing Room, and the relationship to the MKULTRA program. Later the action moves to real time as the next step of Ms. Reilly's try out.

    The room is occupied by four U.S. citizens which very vaguely represent the scope of society. A white female (portrayed by the criminally under-used Clea DuVall -HBO's Carnivale-), a neurotic white male, a black male, and a calm white male ex-con ("We have a potential leader" squawks the two-way when he enters the scene for the first time.").

    The first kill (I assume that is not a spoiler given the title of the movie) is sudden, brutal, and takes the viewer completely by surprise. It made me sit up and mentally rub my hands together. Unfortunately the film fails to capitalize on the sudden burst of momentum.

    The rest of the movie is a relatively arid affair that rarely surprises, never builds tension, and ultimately falls on its face. A minor Reveal 2/3 of the way through comes too late and lacks continuity or sense outside the realm of far-reaching. The intended emotional impact of that Reveal is therefore non-existent. The menace of the MKULTRA program is forgotten. The reason that the ex-con was identified as a leader type becomes perfunctory. The final card up the sleeve of the film is the moral dilemma faced by Ms. Rielly. This payoff is actually aborted in what might as well have been alternate ending number one on the DVD – a hackneyed daydream what-if sequence that the viewer neither cares about nor believes would succeed. Sevigny did her eye-twitching best to sell the quandary, but the build up just wasn't there. The bleakness of the film guaranteed from the start that there was only one way to go for the finale.

    The final twist in the last scene was no surprise and, by that time, the viewer doesn't care. It does end with the obvious beginning for a number of archetypal direct to DVD releases. @popbunker
  • The film is a taut, effective psychological thriller and character study. It's not entirely novel, but it's well done and could possibly be set on a stage as a play. The set is not elaborate, taking place almost entirely in a white, locked room, and the pacing relies on dialogue and Deus ex Machina, as well as what Hitchcock called MacGuffins, e.g., the gun, the clock, the questions on notes, etc. These types of plot devices are common in thrillers, and they're used to decent effect here. I will agree somewhat with people who found a lot of the dialogue to be very quiet, almost mumbled, particularly when the crew were communicating over the radio. I had the volume up and could hear it, but I believe it was done for a reason and has the effect of subtly adding tension (if you can hear it), and it's likely done for a reason by the researchers. Indeed, everything that happens in the film can be considered part of the experiment. Or perhaps not ...

    I see that many people who are reviewing this film believe the premise of the experiment to be implausible. There was an infamous psychological experiment dealing with authority conducted in the early 1960s at Yale, that escalated quickly, but almost predictably, into a Lord of the Flies type situation and had to be halted. It's known as the Milgram experiment, and I'd add a link but it's against the guidelines, so do a search if you're not familiar. Also search for MKULTRA, a very real CIA program that ostensibly was shut down in the mid-1970s after a Congressional investigation uncovered a small amount of evidence of what was going on, some of which involved psychological experiments on unknowing subjects, including a surreptitious LSD dosing of a CIA agent which lead to his suicide. The remaining papers that weren't destroyed before the investigation revealed an environment ripe for the kind of abusive experimentation shown in the movie.

    The thing is, the people running MKULTRA really didn't know all that much about a lot of what they were studying, and they had virtually no real oversight and too much latitude, so even though not well intentioned lots of their experiments went nowhere. They tried many different "truth serums" to no avail, as well as studying purported UFOs and paranormal experiments, interviewing and testing "experts" in the field, mostly dealing with the possibility of mind control of some sort. The film "The Men Who Stare At Goats" is a much less serious stab at the subject of MKULTRA. There are also plenty of conspiracy theories floating around about it, including the idea that it was never truly shut down, but the facts as we know them are pretty crazy, with thousands of pages of evidence of a CIA-run covert psychological program gone off the rails - at least with Milgram they knew they had to draw a line somewhere, but not really for MKULTRA.

    You really don't need to make anything up, but what the film does with MKULTRA does make for an interesting premise. It's not that different from some of what they used to do, so it's plausible to anyone who knows the history, or plausible enough. You don't need complete realism, just the elements for good drama and a competent cast, and they're all here. It might not appeal to fans of the modern gory morality plays like Saw, as it's not a big budget film and is morally ambiguous. It's not as good as Hitchcock's one-room thrillers, such as "Rope," but what is? It's far better than most horror films made today, relying on slowly building tension which never truly abates, and the ability of the actors to make it real. Worked for me.
  • I actually really enjoyed this movie. It kept me in suspense and showed that the government using humans as test subjects could still possibly happen. I give this movie two thumbs up for its new spin on holding people "hostage". This movie gave justification for why holding people hostage and using them in an experiment had to be done. What is scary is that some extremist would think this would be a perfect way to recruit subjects. I am sorry about being so vague but I don't want to give the movie away.

    This movie makes one think how would one act if placed in a similar situation. It makes one think am I strong enough and smart enough to get out of the situation in 1 piece. Again very good movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    You may have heard of experiments conducted over the years, done in a control group (or maybe not), where people are put in a room and men in white coats look on and listen through glass walls or other such rooms and watch as (in quotes) "things happen" between or to the people. One such project, the MK Ultra, in the 1970's, had people in a control group taking drugs and observing their actions. What we learn in the Killing Room- based on these experiments- is that the program has been 'refined' over the years into what it is now: an experiment in testing who will be the last man standing in one room, and that one man will be, more than likely, willing to follow any command, chiefly to die for his country. And, as it turns out, here, the people running the experiment know who is really the top contender within a minute of their being in the room.

    The film of The Killing Room is a series of really tense scenes that have characters in a room figuring out what to do juxtaposed with people up in an observation room; one of them, Chloe Sevigny, plays a newcomer who may join the organization - if she has the right stuff for it. Not every moment is cling-to-your-chair suspenseful, but rather it's director Jonathan Liebesman giving the audience a slow-burn; the clock keeps ticking from two hours down to none for the three people in the room to answer a question (it starts as four but one is shot in the head just to start things off), and depending on who answers it right, one may (or may not) die. In the meantime we see Dr. Philipps (Stormare) and his new possible underling (Sevigny) watch in clinical detail how everything unfolds, punctuated by sounds of voice-over from the other technicians and doctors observing and watching the actions.

    The pace is never lacking, specially since it's a short feature length movie, and it works best as a psychological horror piece around what characters will do next. This includes Sevigny's Reilly, who one suspects will be the one that the film will become about. It does in part since we watch and wonder if she'll break away from the insane experiment, or stick with it and become as bloodless as Storemare. But really the best scenes are in that white room, and the details of the characters as they try and figure out their situation from moment to moment. Things like the blood that they spread on the wall so as to read the names of former people in the room; the questions and the answers that the men have to figure out and stick their answers to (or not); the non-pattern of the numbers counting down without consistency.

    And the performances meet up to the standards needed: it's not a Saw movie full of horrid melodrama and twists, and Timothy Hutton and (surprisingly) Nick Cannon meet up to what is required of them, and then some. We do care about what will happen to them, even as they're under such duress that they come apart at the seams. The horror is in anticipation, imagining what could happen next, which is almost impossible to figure. If Liebesman has a great control over this, he has less control over other things that aren't quite as excellent, such as a music composition that is over-laid in some scenes (some of this should just be silent and be more affecting) or just too much in others. And by the very end you will feel so drained that you'll wonder what exactly was the point of it - it doesn't have anything very entertaining, but that's the point. The Killing Room leaves you pondering the inhumanity of people who stop at nothing to get their end goals. Who should die isn't as crucial as Who decides who lives and who doesn't. At this, the film is worth a look.
  • Definitely a movie that will make you think and think and never stop thinking. It's the kind of movie that will get you asking yourself questions of human psychology that you will find no answers to, and most importantly it will by no doubt make you see movies of other genres specially great ones seem so fake and stupid and meaningless. A movie filled with so many meanings, emotional tests, instinctive ones, intellectual to the maximum and too bad I can't say more because going into details will ruin the plot. In other reviews I made I gone as far as ruining lots of plots but not this time because the urge of maintaining this piece of art calls for keeping the whole thing a satisfying surprise to the viewer.

    One final thing, I believe that this is the first movie that whoever will watch, would never give a bad feedback on it and I can't seem to think that anyone whether smart or not, sane or not, would not like it. It's just a complete masterpiece that no one should miss but beware that it might change your taste in movies and views in life about so many things.
  • Nick Canon was great in this movie. I didn't know who he was when I was watching the movie. This movie is about 4 people that answer an ad for testing. One of the participants is used to being part of these experiments and feels good about being there. There is a questionnaire to fill out and he fills it our quickly and with an air of certainty. The only female in the group seems to be second guessing whether or not she should be there. The third seems to be a transient type. His shoes are taped to hold them together. The forth is just a bit of a regular guy. They are all there to earn whatever money this experiment pays. The doctor comes in and explains a few things and tells them all that regardless of how they do, they will all be leaving with $250. After this is where the action kicks in. This is a story of human nature and how much we place our own safety above others. It was truly enjoyable.
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