Director Adrienne Lovette and screenwriter/actor John Rice team up again after their 2016 horror short Hidden Daylight (reviewed here) and craft another winner with The Dark Room, a supernatural chiller starring Rice as the host of what was supposed to be a fun psychic party. Naturally for a scare-fare short, things turn out differently.
Five guests, after having seen flyers around town, come to a house for a psychic party hosted by Sam (Rice): single mother Maribel (Erica Camarano), businesswoman Allie (Rica de Ocampo of Hidden Daylight and Wild Men) and her stock trader boyfriend James (Lenny Thomas of Blood Conscious), and Alabamans Tom (Tim McKiernan) and his girlfriend Brenda (Christina Elise Perry). Each person has different reasons for attending, such as James just wanting to try to get some stock predictions and Tom enjoying showing off his alleged psychic skills like party tricks when not making uncouth remarks about the other guests.
After Tom’s initial displays of abilities, the guests separate for cigarettes and phone calls, and at this point supernatural incidents begin to crop up. The Dark Room then unfolds its mysteries and terrors.
Rice’s screenplay is well paced, introducing the characters in a concise fashion before building the tension. Lovette’s direction is super, never letting up on the mounting suspense once the supernatural goings-on kick in. The cast members all turn in solid performances that feel properly dramatic and realistic. Hopefully not giving too much away, there is also a superbly creepy creature design that deserves mention.
All is not as it initially seems in The Dark Room, and that leads to a tense viewing experience. Highly recommended, watch for this winning short when it begins its run on the film festival circuit.
(4 / 5)