Before watching this DVD I had no idea what this film was about, but because it was released by Mondo Macabro I was immediately interested. I've found their DVD releases to be an enviable source of cinematic strangeness from around the world and this looked to be another slice of (possibly) Euro-Trash joy so, bring it on! Little did I know that I was in for a film produced by Englishman Dick Randall who was famous for bring to the screen such sleazy offerings as THE MAD BUTCHER, BLACK DEEP THROAT, THE CLONES OF BRUSE LEE and the Euro-Trash 'classic' PIECES. I was expecting an Italian giallo of some type and instead I get a British produced film directed by an American best known for FRANKENSTEIN'S
Well- there's nothing for it so I'd best dive in and swim. CASTLE OF FREAKS
I guess THE GIRL IN ROOM 2A would be best described as a horror film. It has several of the standard horror tale tropes - it has a red masked, evil mastermind commanding a small army of minions to do nasty things to innocent people; it has a vulnerable female protagonist ripe to be a 'final girl'; it is set in an ornate, old dark house complete with an odd warden- er, ummm- I mean landlady; in other words, it has all the things needed to be a horror film. So why does it seem to stop being one just about the time it should be ramping up to deliver the goods? In the film Daniela Giordano plays the titular resident of Room 2A. Her name is Margaret and she is a rather reserved girl who has just been released from jail after serving a short sentence. It seems that she was caught at a party in possession of marijuana and her shame at having a criminal record weighs heavily on her. Her social worker Alicia (Rosalba Neri) has arranged for her to live in a boarding house run by Mrs. Grant (Giovanna Galletti), who's rather strange adult son Frank (Angelo Infanti) still lives at home with mother. This first section of the film has a nice, understated quality and tone that is slightly distant and dreamlike putting me in mind of the classic mood piece CARNIVAL OF SOULS. In fact, this detached, cold atmosphere really had me intrigued with the idea that this was going to play out as a variation on that older movie with some more uncensored elements that might play into the erotic qualities that CARNIVAL OF SOULS only hinted at. Indeed, once we are shown Frank's creepy workroom full of mannequins I felt sure this was the way things were going to go. Add to these things the fantastic and never spoken of problem that Margaret's room has a red stain on the floor that reappears no matter how many times she cleans it and you have a great set up for a frightening tale of madness and death. And then she starts having nightmares about the aforementioned masked figure in red! This is really cooking, right?
As I've said, this film becomes less interesting and more by-the-numbers as it reaches its conclusion. It's not a bad film but I can't help feeling it squanders its impressive beginning in the desire to have a simple rush-to-the-rescue finale. The movie has a number of interesting characters and it plays its mystery out pretty well, but the silly last 15 minutes undermines a lot of the goodwill generated. When part of the showdown with the evil minions involves a car chase and an 'attack on the castle' sequence right out of a peplum you can't escape the fact that the film is flailing around in search of something. Maybe this combination of disparate elements will hold more appeal for other viewers but for me it just seems like they produced 70% of a good film and then flubbed the ending.