Red Room is a short horror film about two friends recounting an instant of possession of a third, something which has had a lasting effect on everyone involved.
So there are things about this that are great successes and things that are less so. And weirdly it was the opposite of the stuff I expected. Normally the hard part to do in horror is the scare, while setting up a group of likeable people is pretty easy. In Red Room, the best parts are the scare, the ominous growl from unmoving lips that you know you are supposed to feel in the centre of your chest rather than hear, the figure that presents as a human shape but is not. These things are all pulled off with aplomb, excellent use of lighting, colour, visual effect.
Instead it is the characters themselves that seem flat. It’s difficult because we only see them on the evening of the possession, and discussing it later, so there is no pre-event status quo established. It’s hard to see how things change when you miss the beginning and only have a middle and end. Also, Orla speaks throughout like a spooky witch/obnoxious student with their first tarot deck. Daniel seems forbearingly weary of this at every stage, although clearly a bit more upbeat in humouring it before Tom’s possession. By the time we first see Tom, he’s already in the grip of something supernatural. Neither are the relationships between the three established. They seem like friends, Orla claims Daniel fancies Tom but nothing indicates this besides the awkwardness of Daniel’s denial. Also, given the distance between Orla and Daniel, they both appear to have been friends of Tom’s, rather than with each other.
While I’m happy with leaving some stuff unanswered, like who or what possessed Tom, and how the supernatural draw started, I felt like some clarification on other things would have helped, like what happened to Tom? He collapses after his possession, but from the way Orla and Daniel discuss the incident, he does survive. While Orla needs to talk about what happened, and Daniel really doesn’t but provides her with a listening ear anyway, Tom’s reaction to the event is absent. Also, Orla and Daniel discuss the aftermath on the phone in this really static pose, so nothing is really being shown of their reaction, it’s all tell in the dialogue, with Orla describing herself as haunted as opposed to being shown to be haunted.
A qualified success, with really good visual horror, but hampered by underdeveloped interpersonal relationships between the characters.