It's hard to relay how effectively this film delivers absolutely nothing of value.
I know...all you have to do is check out the posters and read the synopsis to know we're not shooting for a film brimming with deep, meaningful artistic content. But seriously? Darkroom starts up with a mildly interesting premise, even though it is duct-taped onto the very well-worn "lure the pretty girl into danger" trope. Kaylee Defer (in all fairness, delivering an OK performance given the material) plays Michelle, a girl who's doing time in a juvenile facility after killing three of her friends in a drunk driving accident. DeFer plays these opening scenes with a nice air of shell shock. At least there seems to be something inside herself that she's trying to effectively relay.
She's lured to a sprawling mansion that's far too awesome to be in the company of these filmmakers --- it lends a very creepy, imposing atmosphere. One would think that the people residing in this house would be fairly interesting. They obviously would have some style, some flash, some character --- even if it were dark and twisted.
Well, here's where Michaelbrent Collings script really drops the ball. The three antagonists, when not cribbing straight from the abused family-of-wackjobs movie handbook (bullying older male sib, domineering female sib, bullied and repressed younger male sib) come across as nothing more than common thugs who like to play with power tools. They're supposedly right-wing Christian extremists, but they act and talk like white trash hillbillies. Their methods are not scary, creepy, or menacing. They're just brutal and disgusting. And boring, unless a trip to Home Depot sends you into a full-tilt panic attack. Yes, I'm sure it's terrifying in real life to be attacked with a power drill or a hack saw. Not so much on the screen, especially when you could care less if any of these people survive.
Darkroom is like an anti-Hostel. You can argue that both films depict the same thing, and rightfully so. What Eli Roth brought to the table in those films, though, were characters and situations that drew you into watching...and caring. Characters had quirks, eccentricities, and nuances that at least made them memorable...especially the villains. Darkroom has *none* of these things. It's bad guys are nothing but stiff, blank-slated cyphers. And not in a creep-out amoral Michael Myers way, either.
So why does one write a film such as this? Had to be the cash, I guess. Which I must admit irritates me. It completely degrades the work of everyone on a project this size.
Any possible reason beyond spilled CGI gore has been ripped off from thousands of other, better horror films (abusive families beget abuse, wow -- how deep). Inexplicably, the film ends with a home movie of the torturers as children, happy as all get-out, playing on the front lawn of the mansion. Not sure how the writer thought we would actually care about these cardboard cut-outs. The shot is as mystifying as why Phase 4 (a normally very discriminating distributor) would release this pile of gutless garbage.