Red Room empty of thrills

Khanyi Mbau stars in film Red Room as high class woman Zama Marawa./Supplied
Khanyi Mbau stars in film Red Room as high class woman Zama Marawa./Supplied

If Africa Magic and Telemundo had a love child it would be director Sans Moonsamy's eye-gouging film Red Room.

Despite being over-ambitious, the psychological thriller fails from begin to end in its dense and thrill-free cinematic approach.

Khanyi Mbau takes the lead as a high class woman, Zama Marawa, who loses her fortune, fancy life, social prestige and fake friends after her husband's untimely death. With no money and heavily pregnant, she ends up in a women's shelter that predictably turns out to be a realm for sex trafficking and pimps.

You then get taken on her long ride to survival in this sinister underworld led by the evil Albert (Pakamisa Zwedala). She also finds her Prince Charming (Nicholas Nkuna) along the way. How original and riveting? The film eventually culminates in a promising twist that fails to take off.

The genius of a psychological thriller often is that you can't pinpoint when it hooks you. Unlike horror that's outright showy, bat crazy and nightmarish, a psychological thriller is far more grounded and sneaky. Think of it as the Ivy League and elitist cousin that you love to hate at family gatherings.

It's quiet as a shadow and quick as a snake. Some of the best in the genre like Fight Club and The Silence of the Lambs mess with your psyche so hard that you begin to question your mental wellbeing.

The only thing that you are left to question with Red Room is why did I stay long enough for the end credits? The film gets in its own way by failing to commit to itself.

There are so many plot-holes that you are left wondering if the screenplay was written as an assignment by a film student.

A large portion of why the film is a cesspool is because of shaky and poor editing. Instead of just pasting the footage in a timeline, smart editing could have rescued countless bad shots by repositioning them at the least. Better yet, leave them on the cutting floor.

What's even more tragic is that it fails to sell Mbau as a temptress and seductress. How ironic as Mbau is the most femme fatale actress you will ever find in local film.

A movie is only good as how great its primary villain is. Zwedala's portrayal of the bad guy is gimmicky, ostentatious and does nothing to raise the stakes for an exciting final showdown.

Rating 3/10

The movie opens today in cinemas

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