ROOM 9 comes from writer/director Thomas Walton, and the premise mostly centers on a revenge plot 40 years in the making. Some big names in the horror world appear in the film, such as Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th, Hatchet), Michael Berryman (The Hills have Eyes), and Scout Taylor-Compton (Halloween). However, even with this powerhouse of a cast, the film offers very little in the way of horror or even plot.
Describing the story of this film proves difficult, so let’s start with the opening scene. A newly married couple rents a hotel room (room number 9 to be exact) and while thoroughly enjoying each other, a group of men break in and murder them. The reason for this unexpected crime? The men were supposedly commanded to wash away the sins of the married pair. Just in the first few minutes, we get treated to an absolutely painful soundscape as we watch Michael Berryman’s character sharpen a hatchet. Paired with the cringy noises, the film also attempts to look like old grainy footage or a VHS with tracking issues. It seems the director intended the effect to represent a flashback, but the result just creates the appearance of a bad selfie filter.
After the cold opening, the sequence during the title credits plays out like an early 90s metal music video. Just a really random assortment of visuals with a garage band kind of sound playing in between clips of Jed Bedford (Berryman) praying. In fact, the whole movie plays out like a long self-produced music video, with the songs often taking precedence over the dialogue. Throughout the film, you will keep expecting the movie to finally get serious and take a break from the overbearing sound design and weird assortment of angles and visuals, but ROOM 9 does not let up with its wanna-be music video stance.
The first 15 minutes or so play out a bit like a fever dream (and not in a good way), but after we flash forward to the present day, the appearance of the movie at least takes a more traditional appearance when it comes to film quality. So, after the cold opening with the murdered couple, then another almost throw-away segment, we finally get to Jason (Michael Emery), one of the main characters of the film. He receives a mysterious (and sloppily written) letter telling him his father (who he doesn’t know) left him a house that is 1000 miles away. Apparently, the young Jason now owns the Johnson/Bedford Inn from the opening scene.
Mixed in with the trace bits of plot, the movie also offers a lot of filler segments that add nothing to the story, tone, or character development. Even the death scenes occur mostly off-screen, so we are robbed of any kind of gore to help redeem the quality of the film. The acting and dialogue are on the same level as most pornos which just adds to the list of reasons why ROOM 9 is definitely a video you will see for free on Amazon Prime. Kind of like a straight-to-video quality film like Sledgehammer.
At 45 minutes in, Kane Hodder’s character gets parole and goes to the bar for another filler sequence with unnecessary interactions and almost inaudible dialogue. Character development and plot did not really occur to the director because every 20 minutes or so, a new main character gets introduced and he does not waste time explaining what the movie is about or how any of these characters are connected. Unless you read the plot synopsis or view the trailer beforehand, you will spend most of the film very much lost.
Not until the last sequence do we get any kind of explanation and, honestly, it is not worth the wait. When trying to think of a film easily comparable to ROOM 9, the closest example would be Howling 7. Both films contain a lot of music and random bar scenes, and once in a while, both movies will slip in a bit that references the murders. If you live in a Colorado-type state or enjoy a few drinks to get your squiffy, then ROOM 9 might make for a funny evening with friends. However, combing this film on a sober night alone will only aggravate you.
ROOM 9 is available on DVD and Digital on July 20th from Lionsgate.