Red Room: A Sadist Horror Story

Torture in the horror genre is nothing new. Though villainous motives vary from films such as Saw and Hostel, nearly every scenario consists of poor unsuspecting victims falling prey to a trap and painful brutality ensues. However, Red Room, a short horror film by Austrailian filmmaker Omar Fodda, combines many familiar elements while offering its own unique spin.

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Held in a room, William (Jason Stojanovski, Subterano, The Killing Hour) nervously smokes a cigarette as two detectives, Suarez (George Basha) and Greenberg (Brendan Donoghue), begin an aggressive interrogation. Shaken by what he has seen and knowing he is a prime suspect in a murder investigation, William explains to the detectives how he was sent a link through the deep web. Thinking it was pornography, curiosity surpassed reason as he inadvertently opened a video revealing the type of pleasure only a sadist would enjoy. Greenberg asks William if he masturbated to the video; a question that carries far more twisted irony than one expects. William goes on to explain the horrific game of torture filmed by an underground group known as The Horsemen.

Bringing the film to life is projected tension so thick you could cut it with a buzz saw. Opening with the sound of dripping water from a faucet and loud heavy footsteps crossing the room in slow motion, no time is wasted in establishing a suspenseful tone. Cutting to Suarez and Greenberg beginning their interrogation, Basha and Donoghue, play the role of an aggressive detective duo to perfection as their intimidating characters make it clear they won’t be tolerating any bullshit. Stojanovski plays off these two with equal talent effortlessly portraying William as shaken and distraught while panicking under pressured accusation.

As William recounts what he witnessed on the deep web link, Red Room jumps to a scene depicting a beaten and bloodied man suspended by chains with his hands tied above his head. As he regains consciousness and begins to yell for help, The Horsemen make their first appearance. With great use of a first person point of view and heavy breathing from under a mask, a technique similar to John Carpenter’s original Halloween (1978), we catch our first glimpse of this sadistic couple. This introduction lasts just long enough for the intended creepy effect before showing a man and woman donning makeshift Purge masks and grunge style attire suitable for their pain meets pleasure personality.

As the torture game called Red Room commences, unintended humor could have easily found its way into the film. However, with a clever script, muffled devious laughter, distorted voices and gritty imagery, the trap of inadvertent comedy is successfully avoided. As The Horsemen’s pervasive intention of sexual gratification is made clear, the majority of the laughing comes from the sick and twisted duo.

red room

Perhaps the best part of Red Room is a cleverly crafted plot twist not often found in films as short as 12 minutes. With an ending offering the type of closure expected from a short film, it is equally open-ended enough to serve as an introduction to a full-length feature. While some horror fans will find this one difficult to watch for all the right reasons, fans of Saw and Hostel will be left intrigued and asking for more.

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