With a title like “Breathing Room,” you’d expect to find this movie debuting on Lifetime, but Chiller would be a welcome home for it.
The eerie low-budget thriller plops a young woman named Tonya (newcomer Ailsa Marshall), naked, in a locked warehouse full of strangers in jumpsuits. They’re all awaiting instructions in a devious game run by some omniscient madmen, keeping them there with booby traps. Enigmatic clues to winning are planted here and there, as bodies pile up. The grand prize? Life!
The basic premise is 85 percent “Cube” “ one of the greatest little-seen gems in modern-day sci-fi “ and 15 percent “Saw.” The limited location and stripped-down story makes the miniscule budget work for the film, while the amateurish acting and a script that isn’t as sharp as it should be work against it.
Being kept in the dark keeps the viewer in the zone for a good while, awaiting its mysteries to be revealed, but the twist ending is easily guessed because you’re given a little too much time to wonder. A little more onscreen distraction would have made the drawing back of the curtain more of a surprise, rather than substantiation.
This largely effective, efficient film is the first for writers/directors John Suits and Gabriel Cowan. I give them an A for effort, and a C for execution.