Plot: What’s it about?
A woman wakes up to find herself in an unknown location, a bright white room filled with intense fluorescent lights. She isn’t alone either, a number of other people also happen to be there, though she knows none of them. Each one has had the same wake up call, finding themselves in this strange situation with no explanation. Just when they start to try to put some pieces together, a video screen turns on and they discover they have a host. This host informs them that if they wish to survive, they must play by the rules and do what they’re told. Soon the people are given items and forced to find additional ones, or given clues about the other people, in order to create division. Soon the group learns that one of them is in fact the host, but in order to find out who, a lot of people have to die. Can anyone uncover the truth about this sadistic killer in time, or will the answer be found out too late, when only the host is still alive?
The success of the Saw franchise has spawned numerous coat-tail films, one of which is Breathing Room. While this film does borrow a lot from Saw, I was also reminded of Cube, a most underrated picture. If you’ve seen Saw and Cube, then you won’t be taken by surprise much as you watch Breathing Room. The premise is like Cube, strangers trapped in a game of sorts with no idea why, while the sadistic host element harkens back to Saw. Where Breathing Room falls short is that it captures little of the tension found in those movies and without tension, this kind of movie can’t work. I do think the filmmakers tried to make a thinking man’s type horror movie, but sadly, the logic here is inconsistent at best. The performances also fail to spark much interest, due in no small part to the shallow character development. Breathing Room isn’t the worst movie I’ve seen, but there are much better movies that cover similar ground, so its hard to recommend.
Video: How does it look?
Breathing Room is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a solid treatment, but it never dazzles. The dark visuals hold up well, thanks to accurate contrast and good color replication. I found detail to be acceptable, but due to the dark visuals, some detail is lost in the shuffle. The print looks sharp, with no real grain or debris to report. So not a dynamic visual effort, but a solid overall presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
A stereo soundtrack is included, but it doesn’t much beyond the basics. The film’s atmosphere isn’t bolstered much by the sound design, which is a missed opportunity, I think. There is some decent directional presence, but it is used more than cheap scares than keeping the atmosphere tense or suspenseful. The music sounds good however, while dialogue is sharp and never out of place. Not a memorable soundtrack, but solid, nonetheless. This disc also includes English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes the film’s trailer.