Saturday, 31 March 2007

The Girl in Room 2A / La Casa della paura

[Note that this review contains spoilers]

Written, produced and directed by William Rose, The Girl in Room 2A certainly starts off intriguingly, with the abduction, torture and murder of a young woman, only to then settle down into decidedly meandering and ineffectual mystery enlived only by the eye-candy provided by Daniela Giordano and – in smaller roles – Rosalba Neri and Karin Schubert.

Keep in mind this is supposed to look like a suicide

Giordano plays Margaret, just released from the woman's prison (“look, it wasn't a prison; it was the women's jail”) where she spent some time for being found in possession of drugs, although she continues to protest that they were not hers. Neri is the social worker, Mrs Songbird, responsible for Margaret's rehabilitation. She has found Margaret a place to stay in the halfway house run by Mrs Grant.

Margaret tries to settles in and tries to rest, but finds this difficult when the floor of the room has an inexplicable blood stain half-hidden under a rug, someone is pacing around outside and the shutters will not stay closed. She decides to go out for a walk, but is intercepted by Mrs Grant, who asks if she would like a cup of tea and a sedative to go with it. (“I use them myself. My doctor gives them to me. Just a nerve calmer. Try one!”)

That night Margaret is visited by a red masked figure. For a few minutes the film-makers try to make us unsure whether it is for real or in her mind, only for the next sequence to introduce a group of cultists led by the selfsame figure and including amongst their number Mrs Grant's son and Mr Dreese, whom we had earlier glimpsed watching Margaret with an unhealthy interest when she was in town. They kill off an ex-member, Johnstone, and dump his body off the same cliff as seen at the start of the film.

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times?

By now – one third of the way into the proceeding – one is wondering exactly what the point of it all is, insofar as about the only questions remaining are the identity of the cult leader and whether Margaret will realise the danger she is in. Unfortunately a visit to the suspiciously too-kind Mrs Songbird and the introduction of the dead girl's brother, who refuses to believe that she killed herself as per the official inquiry, pretty much prove to answer to both...

Any excuse for a picture of Rosalba Neri...

Lacking the trash value or Italian style required to overcome its flatly direction and poorly writing – how were the stab wounds on the dead girl and Johnstone not noticed? why does the red masked figure look nothing like Neri? – Girl in Room 2A can be summarised as one of those borderline gialli that can only be recommended to completists.

An interesting Daniela Giordano interview:

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