Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Killing Room

Go To

The Killing Room is a 2009 Psychological Thriller film directed by Jonathan Liebesman, starring Nick Cannon, Clea Duvall, Timothy Hutton, ChloŽ Sevigny, Peter Stormare, and Shea Whigham.

A group of four people sign up for a psychological research experiment. After they meet in a large, white room, they are then told that they will have to kill each other, as only one person will be let out alive.

This film provides examples of:

  • Air Vent Escape: One man is able to smash through the ventilation duct in the ceiling. The researchers react calmly as this has all happened before (in fact, the protagonists had heard someone scrambling through the duct earlier). He reaches a roof duct, but is blocked by a steel grill. Two labcoated researchers with clipboards are shown standing over another rooftop duct from which can be heard a woman screaming. They walk over to the other grill, hit the man with knockout gas and drag him back to the Room.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: In the end it's down to two people, one of whom seems more likely to survive. The other has a gun with one bullet, so he decides to kill himself in a Heroic Sacrifice. As he quickly shoves the gun in his mouth there's a gunshot, and bloodsplatter, then several other gunshots — the researchers have burst into the room and shoot his companion, as the test is meant to recruit people capable of sacrificing themselves in Suicide Attacks.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The subjects are told they'll be eliminated one at a time in a psychological experiment. The sole female member is then immediately shot to set the stakes. The only black subject appears to have the least will to survive, and when they're down to two members decides to kill himself in a Heroic Suicide. Mooks then burst into the room and kill the other subject, as that's what they're testing for (the experiment is meant to brainwash people into becoming suicide bombers). As the movie ends with him being scheduled for "Phase 2" of the experiment, it would have been more merciful if the trope had been played straight.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: In the end the subjects decide to rush the door next time it is opened, and one of them covers himself with blood from a dead subject to make his body slippery so he can't be grabbed.
  • Closed Circle: Four subjects are locked in a room for a psychological experiment. They're then told only one can get out alive. The film also covers the man running the experiment and a new recruit for the program. They never leave the premises, and it's implied that if the new recruit does try to walk out before the experiment runs its course, she'll be killed.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: One of the subjects finds what appears to be a message from the previous occupants scratched into the wall. The words have been painted over, so they take the blood from a member of their group who has already been killed and smear it on the walls to make out the words. A cut later there's blood smears all around the room, showing they're just the latest of many victims. Turns out the words have been put there deliberately by the researchers, so having to use blood to see them is likely a deliberate Mind Screw.
  • Daydream Surprise: The NSA psychiatrist steals the swipe card to the titular room, slips into the room and frees the two subjects who are still alive. As they're fleeing down the corridor and the Red Alert goes off, we cut back to her watching the subjects through a double-sided mirror, being unable to go through with it. The head scientist then demands the return of his swipe card.
  • Here We Go Again!: The Sole Survivor apparently escapes only to end up in a room with two other prisoners, in the next stage of the experiment.
  • Implied Death Threat: The NSA psychiatrist steals the swipe card and it looks like she might free the subjects. The head researcher has already killed two subjects with a Boom, Headshot!, and he tells her that it's more merciful to just get it over quickly if you're required to kill a man. Then he adds pointedly, "Or a woman."
  • Kilroy Was Here: One subject finds HELP ME and a list of names has been scratched into the wall. Then they find names are scratched all over the walls. The anonymous researcher secretly watching the experiment then brags, "It used to take six to eight hours to reach this point, but leaving those names really sped up the process."
  • One Bullet Left: At one stage of the experiment, a gun is thrown into the room. One man grabs it to shoot the other two, who tell him to check the magazine. It's empty, so there's just one round in the chamber. Turns out the reason there's one bullet is to identify the man who's willing to kill himself in a Heroic Suicide, as the whole idea is to brainwash people to become suicide bombers. When he tries to shoot himself the weapon won't fire and his companion is terminated instead.
  • Race Against the Clock: The subjects are given a test question that requires a numerical answer, and the person whose answer is furthest from the correct one will be killed. A digital clock counts down the time until they have to give the answer. There's actually plenty of time to think up the answer (several hours), as the point is to put as much psychological pressure on the subjects as possible and seeing the clock adds to this.
  • There Can Be Only One: Four subjects are locked in a room for a psychological experiment. They're then told only one can get out alive.