A dilapidated but stately ivy-wrapped manor far, far in the countryside. An overgrown, neglected garden full of vines, weeds and mysterious rustling sounds that can’t be easily explained. Ominous cawing of crows every time you venture out into the backyard. Still unless you are in a movie based on the children’s classic, “A Secret Garden,” you should probably beat a hasty retreat, but of course, if you’re Kate Beckinsale and her charming husband Mel Raido in “The Disappointments Room,” you stay and attempt to fix it up, noises and nightmares be damned. We soon learn in the film that although the couple has an adorable little boy (Duncan Joiner) with whom they appear to have a trusting, affectionate relationship, they’ve also suffered a loss of a baby girl – whose birthday anniversary is just around the corner. Also (shades of Rebecca Hall’s character in “The Gift”) Kate has had emotional problems in the past, which loads the dice for the chance that she won’t be believed when she starts emerging from a bizarre room upstairs, complaining that someone locked the door on her. Of course, Mel’s expected response, a tentative, “Honey, are you still taking your meds?” is met with anger at not being believed. Still coincidences like a child, who lived there previously, dying in their house the same day as their daughter are difficult to dismiss, although being characters in a thriller, they manage not to run away screaming, even after Kate is informed point blank that the ghost doesn’t want her there.
As in really, really doesn’t, which we learn, after Kate is mysteriously mailed old photos and documents on the former residents, may be because the resident ghost (a former judge) has a young disabled daughter, who he and his wife kept locked up in said room because apparently, that is what occurred in those days. Oddly, Duncan who occasionally glimpses the young girl, does not bring up this with either his mom or dad. But soon there’s more than enough drama to fill Kate’s days, especially after the young, handsome handyman (Lucas Till) begins to help fix up the house. There is also an adorable cat already living in the house, and if you are a cat lover, it is best to keep your eyes closed during the scene where the cat goes missing, and Kate and Duncan attempt to scour the premises to find it. Actually, there are quite a few scenes involving graphic gore; this movie is not for the squeamish.
“The Disappointments Room,” is actually based on a true story of a couple who moved to renovate a country home and discovered yes, such a room, although I just learned this by clicking an online link; if this was acknowledged in the credits, I missed it. Maybe since the discovery is pretty horrifying, regardless of whether it’s a haunted room, the real life couple didn’t want any publicity. The finale of the movie surprised me by not hinging on literally killing ghosts, but rather a more metaphorical death. And in the end, they do take the advice of the ghost, which they should really have done a lot earlier.