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Lust and gore abound in trashy horror film 'The Black Room'

Lust and gore abound in trashy horror film 'The Black Room'
Lukas Hassel and Natasha Henstridge in the movie "The Black Room." (Cleopatra Entertainment)

Veteran exploitation filmmaker Rolfe Kanefsky has directed a handful of horror pictures over the years, but has spent more time helming soft-core erotica, which probably explains why his supernatural thriller "The Black Room" is unusually sexy. It's a throwback to the days when B-movies loaded up on skin as well as blood.

Natasha Henstridge and Lukas Hassel costar as Jennifer and Paul Hemdale, a middle-aged couple who move into a nice-looking old house, then realize it's haunted by an evil spirit that draws strength from human sexual arousal. Before long, husband and wife are being molested day and night by an unseen force.

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"The Black Room" has moments where the practical makeup and gore effects combine with the wildness of the premise to create something imaginatively bizarre. At times, Kanefsky seems poised to say something about how sexuality is intertwined with power, in marriage and in the culture.

But the story goes nowhere, in large part because the two leads take too long to realize something's awry. The film ends up being more about what's done to them than what they do to fight back.

The movie's monster explains that it's easy to weaken humans with pleasure because "it's hard to fight what feels good." Sharing that same strategy, "The Black Room" is unabashedly trashy — with scene after scene of nudity and gore — but doesn't offer much beyond sensation.

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'The Black Room'

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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