Fermat’s Room Review: Carol Boredom-an

May 28, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews


FERMAT’S ROOM Opening in selected cinemas Friday 29th May 2009

In a film industry saturated with countless cop-out remakes and where originality is thin on the ground, Fermat’s Room takes inspiration from a wide variety of modern cult and horror – including Saw, My Little Eye and (i’m not kidding) Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.

Yet, the overall product is like chewing cardboard – mildly amusing, slightly quirky, but of absolutely no worldly value – cinematic or otherwise. It was like the film equivalent of Holly Willoughby – inoffensive to the eyes, but just bloody dull. This is a hugely frustrating disappointment as the movie’s concept is intriguing, and both writer/directors have clearly made a real effort to make the film unique. Perhaps, whilst trying to use this as the film’s ESP, it became the knife in it’s blank calculator of a heart. By making the plot overcomplicated, something was lost in translation.

Four mathematicians (the playboy, the silver fox, the posh totty and the inventor) have been invited to solve one of the most elusive conundrums of all time; they meet at a secret location and are given problems to solve under timed conditions. If they don’t discover the answer in the designated time frame, the walls of the retro-chic drawing room will slowly close in. It’s much like a bipolar version of Countdown, if Carol Vorderman had a murderous revenge fantasy about making you pay for solving Goldbach’s Conjecture before she did.

Still, she has made a steady living out of Detox books and Sudoku, so perhaps one day her rage will subside.

Running with the puzzle theme, I am completely befuddled by certain aspects of the film. Firstly, it baffles me that the two writers, Piedrahita and Sope┼ła, who are specialists in comedy and magic, would attempt a horror project. Trickery and bluffing are clear influences on Fermat’s Room, but the initial mystery created by the ambiguous meeting is later revealed to be a sham. The characters’ apparent, interlinked back story is more of an afterthought which makes the action feel fake.

Perhaps I’m too morbid, but the whole point of this type of psychological thriller is to petrify. I know it’s a lot to ask after the fright-fest that is Drag Me To Hell, but god-damn it, I want to be scared! I want to be scratching a fine layer of shiny plastic off the cinema seat, removing the foam from the cushion and shoving it in my mouth to smother the screams. But before mortal panic has really set in, the characters were released by a tawdry plot device: the life-saving deus ex machina.

Overall, it was just a bit pointless. If only I could verbalise the feeling of a shoulder shrug and a more eloquent way of saying “meh”, I might go some way to describe how this movie left me feeling. For now, only one word will suffice.


Sally McIlhone

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