The Dead Room (2015)

There is an intruder. It’s you.

Writers: Kevin Stevens, Jason Stutter
Director: Jason Stutter

The Dead Room is a short, low budget ghost story from New Zealand.

The film begins with three people arriving at a house in the rural countryside. The house is far from your typical gothic mansion, in fact as one of the characters observes it’s a bit of a dump.

The three people are Scott (Jeffrey Thomas), Liam (Jed Brophy) and Holly (Laura Petersen). Holly is a psychic, Scott and Liam are high tech ghost hunters.

Why are they at the house? We’re not initially told. In fact a feature of the story is that we’re told very little, rather we’re shown it – which gets a thumbs up from me. As the initial investigation of the house goes on we’re shown that the occupants left in a hurry very recently. They even left behind they’re pet birds (which are still alive) and there is rotting food on the table.

This is very much a slow burn movie with very little happening for the first half hour. However the atmosphere is excellent and extremely creepy. As a result it kept my interest even though there was little or no action. For some people though it might be a little too slow.

Once things do get going the tension mounts rapidly and our ghost hunters realise they might not be as safe as they thought. All of this is done with very limited special effects and shows what can be done on a low budget if you play to your strengths.

Acting is good, with all three characters given nuanced performances that show them as more than one dimensional labels.

But what really makes The Dead Room is Stutter’s direction. This is perfectly suited to the nature of the story with moody shots and long takes.

Unfortunately it’s rather let down by the last ten minutes. The story is fine – there’s a nice twist that caught me by surprise. The problem is that Stevens and Stutter feel the need to end with action and they’re not very good at it. Not only does it jar with the low key atmosphere of the rest of the film, it uses some rather silly clich├ęs.

Despite the disappointing end, The Dead Room is a superior haunted house movie for those who prefer atmosphere and hints to jump scares and infodumps.