Playroom (2006)

“Playroom” is yet another horror movie with an identity crisis, and the apparent struggle for a solid identity is concocted by director Stephen Stahl who wants a coming of age movie, and a horror movie wrapped in one bizarre package. Paired with homophobic overtones, “Playroom” (also known as “Consequences”) is the story of a group of friends in the eighties (Stahl never lets us forget it’s the eighties) who bond and love one another, and eventually disconnect as life takes its toll.

Stahl completely shoves these life themes down our throats showing these young men at parties, and fighting with a rival group of guys, and romancing the women, et al. Director Stahl sets his story up as anxiously as possible to tug at our heart strings. We have a group of disconnected life long friends forced to confront their own demons when Jigsaw–er–a mysterious stranger, kidnaps them and begins torturing them when they’re lured into a dark underworld of the utmost generic variety.

The collective performances are just awful, and Stahl can never make up his mind if he’s ripping off “Saw,” or “Hostel.” He does amplify Eli Roth’s homophobia, though. For example, two of the main characters (who happen to be closer than most of the guys in this ring of friends) are kidnapped and tied to beds beside each other. Thanks to a decrepit old man and his two male assistants they begin enacting sexual games with them and torture them endlessly.

This may or may not serve as a subconscious way of getting them to admit that perhaps they are in love due to the fact they’re in this repressed homosexual hell. I have no real clue what the intent for “Playroom” was, all I know is that Stahl’s attempts to force in as many genres into ninety minutes as possible results in an utterly disastrous quasi-horror film. The horrible acting, terrible dialogue, and clumsy themes work against the film, especially as Stahl leads us in to a plot twist. When we finally discover who is behind this and why (if you’ve made it that far), you may very well scream in to a pillow. “Playroom” is uneven, it’s stale, and just absolutely unpleasant from start to finish.