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Film / Animal Room

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Animal Room is a 1995 independent thriller film written and directed by Craig Singer, starring Neil Patrick Harris as Arnold Mosk, an intelligent yet troubled drug user, and Matthew Lillard as Doug Van Housen, a budding sociopath who has it out for Mosk.

The film's plot hinges on the fact that the school the boys attend has put into practice a system that segregates "problem students" from the rest of their peers. While the majority of the student body attends classes normally, the disruptive few are held in a guarded portion of the school's basement where, instead of being instructed face-to-face by a teacher, they are shown tapes containing the required curriculum and given the choice as to what they will do with it. This lack of supervision is what gives Van Housen, as well as his small gang of like-minded delinquents, the opportunity to terrorize Mosk, as well as other students.

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Over the course of the movie, Arnold is reached out to by the popular, kindhearted Gary (Gabriel Olds), a childhood friend of Arnold's who desires to rekindle their friendship and help Arnold kick his habit. Arnold accepts his offer, and genuinely seems to be on the right track, but once Van Housen, whose outbursts have escalated from instances of bullying to actual criminal offenses, makes a final threat on Arnold's life, Arnold decides to take matters into his own hands.


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Animal Room contains examples of:

  • Alcoholic Parent: Arnold's mother.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Doug summarizes the book of Job before asking Arnold where he turns when things go wrong.
  • Dystopia: An interesting example. The film is billed as being set in the distant future, but the setting is virtually indistinguishable from any given town in the mid '90s.
  • For the Evulz: Not much a motive is given for the home invasion scene. It's also never explicitly stated why Doug has such a passionate hatred for Arnold.
  • Loners Are Freaks: The general perception of Arnold by his classmates.
  • Lovable Jock: It's never explicitly stated which sport Gary plays, but he's kind enough to qualify.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: When Hinge and the others discuss "Night of the Living Dead" and "Gulliver's Travels," among other things.
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  • Teenage Wasteland: On the academic level, at least.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The entire premise.

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