Not to be confused with the 2013 film Darkroom. John Doe (Reed Diamond, The Terror, The Purge T.V. shows) is a guy with amnesia who has spent the last 15 years in a mental hospital after he was found on the side of the road with blood on his hands. Enter Dr. Allen, a drug company rep who’s testing a possible cure for amnesia. When it fails, John escapes and befriends lonely teenager Stan. Meanwhile, John is having flashbacks of a monster and bloody chains, and he wonders what horrible things he might have done. Further meanwhile, Stan’s alcoholic mother (Lucy Lawless) and abusive stepfather (Greg Grunberg) have mysteries of their own.
The first time I saw The Darkroom I loved it. I loved the cast (how can you not enjoy the sci-fi/fantasy dream marriage of Xena and Matt Parkman?) I loved the twist, and I loved the story. On my second viewing, I was a little embarrassed I didn’t see the twist coming, and I noticed plot holes you could drive a truck through. One of my favorites is the convenient dumpster John finds that’s full of clean clothes. (But really the biggest plot hole is how anyone could cheat on Lucy Lawless.) The special effects are also terrible.
On the plus side, Lawless is easy on the eyes and Grunberg is properly creepy yet smarmy. The main actors are good as well. The cinematography is surprisingly lovely; for example when John leaves the hospital, the outside world is lit with warm golden sunshine. The filmmakers also create the interesting allegory that our minds are a darkroom. There are a few one-liners but some tasteful humor.
Give it a look if you’re in the mood for blood, nudity, and lapse of reason. It’s pretty cheesy, but it’s mighty entertaining.