Impressive little atmospheric horror…
As “crowdfunding” gains more popularity and backers, we are seeing these types of micro-budget films more often, especially in the horror genre, but you do dig up the occasional jewel. Empty Rooms is such a movie, and is a genuine diamond in the rough. Shot in 15 days, with a budget of less than $10 thousand, writer/director Adam Lamas has given us a film that’s clearly greater than the sum of its parts. Not only was the direction good, but the actors were, each, very good considering the budget and relative inexperience, but I have to commend the almost unknown Ramlah Frediani, who gave a particularly strong performance as Jonah’s mother Maddie. I couldn’t find much about Ramlah Frediani other than the fact she has written two novels and can clearly act to a decent standard, plus she looks and talks like a mature version of Katherine Heigl, so she’s hot as well.
This is very much an old-school horror, relying on skill in the art of filmmaking instead of using gore and CG to sell it to the audience, rather, building up a genuinely scary atmosphere then having us jump in enough places to keep it interesting. I know its not in the same class as The Conjuring but it is built on the very same thing that made that as terrifying as it was. And while this movie can’t compete in a lot of things because it was a low-budget movie, it did have the correct amount of tension to rival most horrors I’ve seen of late, and they had proper funding to allow them to take their time with making it. The director had none of those benefits yet still produced this fine little movie, so, major kudos to Mr Lomas for putting it all together.
It’s about a mother and son who move to a new house, and not long after arriving, things start to get creepy. Jonah is autistic, and finds it difficult to speak, so uses basic picture-cards to communicate his feelings. Jonah starts doing drawings of a naked, mean looking dude, which is a serious cause for concern, especially after scratch-marks appear on his back. The first real contact is when Maddie is attacked in the shower, but it slowly escalates after that, with sightings when least expected. Jonah’s doctor gets social workers involved, who take the boy away from Maddie, and she has been trying to piece together who her attackers really are. With the help of her sister and a cop, she begins to make some sense of it all.
This had me jumping a few times, and although there was nothing extraordinary about the scare tactics used, they were done effectively enough to keep me entertained. It might be a tad slow for some, but is worthy of the effort and also most rewarding.