The Dark Web. It is the underworld of the internet where anything and everything illegal happens. From selling passwords, to selling drugs, to human trafficking. It is also the setting for the web series Red Rooms. Five people, who have done horrendous things in the course of their life, have been kidnapped and tied to chairs in five separate rooms. Each room has a webcam and microphone for the viewing audience to see and hear everything. These individuals are unwilling contestants in a game labeled “Live or Die.” The host, known only as the Grandmaster, asks the contestants about the horrific things they have done. If the contestants lie about what they have done, they are killed before the end of the contest. When the questioning is complete, the Dark Web viewers vote on who is the worst. The person with the most votes gets to live; the rest are killed. Over the course of the first season, we learn about the contestants and who is behind putting them in the Red Rooms.
This definitely is a product of the pandemic. While big studios were putting the brakes on production, indie companies like Philly Chick Pictures were coming up with inventive ways to tell stories while still observing quarantine guidelines. Think of Red Rooms like Hostel meets SAW on Zoom. The series relies on the performances of the actors since everything happens in a single room where they are fairly immobile. Having to shoot their scenes via webcam on their computer or laptop must have made the roles extra challenging. Ricky Dean Logan plays the creepy Father Stephen Bishop. You could tell he was deep into this role which could not have been easy given the character. David Alpay puts in a convincing and unnerving performance as the assassin Alex Terizan. Everyone does well, but Logan and Alpay really stand out.
Joshua Butler, who wrote and directed all of the episodes, manages to piece everything together to create a series that will keep you wanting to see what happens next. Most episodes are about eight minutes and change which makes this series a breezy watch. The surreal red-colored CGI opening and Composer Luna Pan’s creepy theme music helps set the dark tone of the show.
The story is a great exploration into how people handle justifying bad decisions in their life. Each episode ends up being a different stage. From denial, to deflection, and finally acceptance. Things really pick up in episodes four and five, which are my two favorites. There is also a twist that is revealed that added an extra layer of weight to what was happening.
If you are not used to a micro-budget aesthetic and do not enjoy watching a video conference session from hell, this series may not be for you. Everything is tinted red which may put some
people off. Some of the dialogue could have been handled better, especially for the Grand Master in the first couple of episodes where they repeat themselves more often than necessary.
If you are looking for something different to watch that is bingeable and has a character-driven story with decent performances, you will want to check it out. I would have liked to see some of the writing tightened up and a little more time spent with the characters. I have a lot of respect for what they accomplished with the series and would be interested to see what they would do with another season with a new set of characters. I give the Red Rooms series three out of five stubs.
You can see Red Rooms for yourself on the "Deep C Digital" YouTube Channel here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXNY08O_Iy2l95hAkqWtU6HWt6k1eQyoJ
I have been reviewing films since high school. I love discussing films with those who share my passion for them. I also do video reviews on YouTube and on my podcast.