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'Breathing Room' DVD Review

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

By

Breathing Room DVD © Anchor Bay

The Bottom Line

A taut, well-made extension of the Cary Elwes scenes in Saw.
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Pros

  • Good acting
  • Solid direction
  • Tense thriller

Cons

  • Inconclusive wrap-up
  • Didn't push the envelope far enough

Description

  • Starring Ailsa Marshall, Michael McLafferty, Kim Estes, David Higlen, Brad Culver, Keith Foster, Stevens Gaston
  • Directed by John Suits and Gabriel Cowan
  • Not Rated
  • DVD Release Date: September 23, 2008

Guide Review - 'Breathing Room' DVD Review

Breathing Room is an impressive little thriller that takes its cue from films like Saw and Cube, but handles the familiar elements with enough skill that it stands just fine on its own.

The premise is simple: fourteen strangers wake up in a large gym-type room with an electric collar around each of their necks. On the wall is a sign reading, "Congratulations! You have been selected! Prepare for the experience of a lifetime!" And then, in small print: "Players must follow all the rules to avoid penalty." Each player is given a numbered jumpsuit and individual clues and tools to help them win the "game," but in Saw-like irony, everyone has only a piece of the puzzle. One man, for instance, has the key to a box containing a gun, while another has a bullet.

The object of the game, as a figure on a screen explains, is mere survival. The lights in the room turn off periodically, and each time they turn back on, someone ends up dead. If anyone tries to escape or breaks the rules (including one about washing your hands), their collar shocks them to death. It seems that one amongst the group is a killer, and the game's notes are designed to cause distrust and paranoia to spread throughout the group.

For such a modestly budgeted film, Breathing Room boasts strong performances from the cast and adept direction that maintains the nervous tension throughout. It's basically an ensemble play, taking place primarily in one room, which plays to the veteran actors' strengths. While some of the story elements are clever, others don't play out fully, and by the end, the reasoning behind everything that happens isn't clear enough. Still, the movie is engaging enough to keep you watching to the muddled end.

The DVD

No special features.

Movie: C+
DVD: F

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