The Black Room (2016) Directed by Rolfe Kanefsky. Starring Natasha Henstridge, Lukas Hassel and Lin Shaye. An ancient Incubus imprisoned in the basement of a suburban house makes erotic trouble for new home owners Paul and Jennifer Hemdale.
In the opening scene, Maggie Black (horror legend Lin Shaye) wakes up in the night to an otherworldly disturbance in her home. Down in the cellar, wooden planks painted with an enchanted sigil throb as if something is pushing on them from the other side. A pipe breaks, blasting the sigil with searing steam and eradicating it. Evil smoke comes pouring out as upstairs as Maggie begs the presence to leave her beautiful granddaughter alone.
Apparently, magic smoke doesn’t hear so well, because it makes a beeline for the nubile girl’s bedroom. After stripping and seducing her, it is driven off by a mystical rock wielded by Maggie. Seconds later, this miracle weapon is obliterated and replaced by an equally ridiculous glowing gold dinner plate. The feisty grandma beseeches the unseen monster to take her soul instead of her innocent grand daughter’s. It agrees.
But what I’m saying is, if there’s a demon in the basement that feeds off lust and passion, why are you having attractive family members in lingerie sleeping over in the first place? There should at least be a warning. “Listen, sweetie, sometimes the bathroom door knob sticks, so you might have to jiggle it…and there’s a 75 % chance you’ll be devoured by an Incubus in your sleep. Night night.”
In addition to poor hearing, Incubi don’t know much about contract negotiations, either. After bagging Granny, the creature grabs her grandchild anyway in the titular dark chamber and gives the terrified girl a demonic rubdown before pulling her through a wall of rubbery blood into Hell. She quickly re-emerges, covered in red slime, with the use of the Golden Dinner Plate. The plate seals the chamber door shut, serving the same purpose as the sigil once did. Before the girl can flee the cellar to safety, the furnace springs open and burns her.
Look, there’s no way to hate this movie.
No one involved is taking it seriously, and on the scale of deliciously cheesy horror movies, it blows such recent anti-classics as “Sorority Slaughterhouse” away. And the cast is pretty remarkable, as well. Lovely “Species” siren Natasha Hentsridge, “Doom Generation” guy James Duval, beloved Scream Queen Tiffany Shepis, “Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre” star Dominique Swain and more.
The effects are created by Vincent Gaustini, who worked on “The Dark Tapes” and “Silent Night.”
We pick up our tale two years later as realtor Monica (Shepis) sells Maggie’s former home to the Hemdale family. They get a pretty good deal on the fully furnished home after the whole granddaughter burnt in the cellar thing. Oscar, a creepy electrician who looks like he just crawled out of a bin of coal dust, shows up to see about replacing the potentially malfunctioning furnace, and accidentally unseals the Black Room again. He enters, exposing with his flashlight what looks like the black lit restroom at a warehouse rave. And then things don’t go his way.
There was something off about him anyway. Nobody gets THAT dirty walking around a basement.
With the dirt-caked electrician gone, Jennifer takes a relaxing bath and announces that her younger sister Karen is coming for the weekend. The Incubus turns up and pleasures both Paul and Jennifer separately before heading back on down to the Black Room to chill.
The next morning, Jennifer is groped by the now demonic Oscar and his glistening black tongue before being blasted with water by the broken washing machine. Soon after, Goth chick Karen shows up to visit and sparks some tension with Paul. Because she has black hair and eyeliner, she is obviously a master of the occult. It’s just how these movies work. Go with it. She brings with her crystals and spellbooks and a whole lotta foreshadowing.
Given that he’s a big dummy, Paul explores the least secret Secret Chamber in the house and sees some new glowing symbols on the walls. He’s confronted by Shaye, Oscar and other victims before being electrocuted by red lightning. Pretty soon, there’s no Paul, only Zuul! Or whatever this thing is called. Evil Paul is much nicer to Karen and kind of forgetful. He also checks himself out in a mirror in front of the two women, smiling at his new form. Karen smells a rat.
“Okay, he’s acting fuckin’ weird.”
Evil Paul immediately begins seducing everything in sight. Or rather, TRYING to. First he approaches a waitress at a restaurant and stares hard at her breasts from inches away. Shockingly, this technique fails to win the babe over and she walks off. Paul-cubus punishes her by causing her breasts to shrink several cup sizes.
He then approaches a second server and bluntly drops the atomic bomb of pickup lines on her:
“I can offer you the most explosive sexual experience you’ve ever had.”
Sadly, it’s another red light on the road to Pound Town. This time he punishes her rejection by sticking his fingers into a cup of coffee, which causes the woman to experience inconvenient and uncontrollable orgasms while taking another table’s order.
And that’s neat, I guess, but I picture an Incubus as a silver-tongued smooth operator who charms women out of their slacks before revealing his demonic nature during sex. Paul can’t even get a girl to give him a hug.
Later in the film he simply approaches Karen and drops his pants. By way of seduction, showing someone who already doesn’t like you an unsolicited view of all your business equipment down there is pretty risky. He had more success when he was just a bunch of smoke.
Finally sitting down to dinner after cruising for dates, he reveals to Jennifer and Karen what we already know: that the house’s former owner Maggie used to screw around with the Occult.
He describes a party Maggie threw in her house in the early 1970s, in which a group of cultists paint one room of the cellar jet black and begin placing symbols on the walls. A ritual is performed and teenage Maggie is penetrated by a massive tentacle. A demon who looks like the Djinn from the “Wishmaster” films with more horns shows up and begins having sex with her, but she breaks free and races out of the demonic circle on the floor. The cult, unable to send the creature back where it came from, gets slaughtered by the beast.
As they die, young Maggie is powerless to help them because she’s writhing her way through orgasm after orgasm. She notices that the jeweled center of a nearby golden plate is irritating the monster and uses it to chase Mr. Horny back into the newly created Black Room.
“It’s hard to fight what feels good,” evil Paul tells Karen and Jennifer.
He then begins busting out some crazy specific information about demonology that screams “I’m a Demon.” Karen is suspicious and Jennifer is oblivious. Back home, Evil Paul has sex with the rubber blood wall. Despite his loud cries and grunts echoing all over the place as he rocks the wall’s world, nobody picks up on anything. Later, he suggests a threesome with Karen to Jennifer. She’s already annoyed about the restaurant weirdness, but she doesn’t seem to put together what he’s actually saying. He then essentially tells her that he’s not Paul.
“You haven’t yet had me in all of my glory. I’ve made certain improvements to this body I think you’re really gonna like.”
“Find somewhere else to sleep, asshole. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.”
Spurned by Jen and banished to the couch, he heads right to Karen’s room and drops his trousers. She’s reading demonology texts with tarot cards all over the mattress when he uses his powers to strip her. Then he grows horns and tentacles and what happens next is straight out of any old hentai flick. Karen gets a lethal tentacle wang between her thighs.
During a housewarming party, Paul invites his new neighbor Howard to enjoy a free tour of the cellar.
“What the HELL?”
“That’s exactly what it is.”
Paul’s nagging wife Shelly (Swain) gets the smoke under the skirt treatment, which sends her into lusty nirvana. She figures into some sort of devious plot the Incubus is hatching involving the shattering of dimensional walls separating us from Hell and a tailed Super Succubus.
The basic plot structure of the film involves more and more people coming by the house for whatever reason and getting pulled into the cellar room or wanged to death by Paul. But for me, the true heart of “The Black Room” is 1990s schlock horror cinema. Roger Corman’s prolific body of work as a producer in that decade and any given Full Moon Features release from Charles Band, crossed with a sleazy dose of late night Skinemax flicks. It’s cheesy, but damn if that cheese isn’t flavorful! You can’t watch the first five minutes of this and not know exactly what you’re in for. It’s a guilty pleasure all the way, with enjoyable performances from a cast mostly made up of genre veterans.