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Breathing Room (2008)
8th Sep 08
Listen up! You think you’re having a bad day! Imagine waking up naked and being the only attractive person in a room full of thirteen unknown mingers and character clichés! Imagine also finding out that the room you now inhabit with these dumb dumbs is inescapable. Any attempt to flee from the room sees the wannabe escapee electrocuted to DEATH courtesy of a Battle Royale styled-collars around their necks. If that wasn’t bad enough there’s someone, possibly amongst them, who has a nasty habit of killing someone off every time the lights begin to flicker. Welcome to Big Brother with a body count.
As a reviewer you can sometimes tend to find yourself second guessing plot arcs from the moment the movie’s title credits have finished rolling. You don’t particular want to; it’s just that some movies are so formulaic that you end up mentally ticking off the clichés to escape the tedium. This was very much the case with the beginning moments of The Breathing Room.
As Tonya (Aisla Marshall) finds herself trapped in a room, the first thing that springs to mind is that this is shaping up to be a Cube rip-off. We are then introduced to the electronic collars that hold the room’s inhabitants captive and immediately one gets to thinking of the wonderful Battle Royale. However as The Breathing Room settles into its groove it becomes apparent that the Saw movies were its main template.
From the host (Keith Foster) that appears to the roommates on a television screen, to the silly little games that the roommates are asked to do, the shadow of the gravely-voiced Jigsaw from the Saw movies, looms large. The Breathing Room is arguably the equal of any of the Saw movies that it looks to cash in on, however that is by no means a reason to recommend it, given the rather stupid and preposterous concept the whole Saw franchise lies upon.
Co-directors/co-writers John Suits and Gabriel Cowan do well to let their movie breathe beyond the confines of its tight budget. And whilst the characters are all pretty much recognisable types rather than anything fresh it makes for an ok evening of generic, unsurprising viewing and it’s certainly a lot better than other Saw rip-offs such as Are you Scared?.
The biggest problem with their movie is that for the most part it is predictable and therefore plays a little on the dull side. The scares tend to be less to do with a build-up of suspense but more to having the volume peak INCREDIBLY LOUD for a moment. It doesn’t get the pulse racing; it just grates on the nerves.
Whilst it’s true to say that not all of The Breathing Room works, things unravel towards the end and the pay-off fails to surprise, however there is enough here to keep an undemanding viewer going. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere unexpected there is enough momentum and veer to convince that this will indeed serve as an ideal calling card for the main guys behind the camera to make their mark with a bigger budget picture. They manage to believably convey that the characters are stuck in just one room and we get a real sense of their frustration.
In terms of the acting there isn’t much opportunity afforded to shine, with the script having too many characters to play around with. Lead actress Ailsa Marshall, who kinda reminds me of Naomi Watts, makes for a pleasing presence in front of the camera, and lead actor Michael McLafferty, a kinda Billy Ray Cyrus look-alike does an ok job as the rugged hero of the piece. Ironically the most notable performance is for all the wrong reasons. Keith Foster, as the host, appearing on screen to advise the captives and the audiences a little more about what’s afoot, is as camp as t*ts and would have me in stitches rather than consumed by fear every time he popped up on screen to deliver a message.
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