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If you have ever wondered why Eric Roberts does not possess even one-third the stardom enjoyed by his sister, the reason for it most likely remains in his choice of films. With an early history in theatre followed by cinema, there is absolutely nothing wrong with his acting or style. But in trying to safely assume what went wrong, my guess would have to be that Roberts' choice in films rests heavily in quantity rather than quality. Starring in a multitude of films, but mostly low budget films made for TV, there is no doubt why he is popularly known as â"Julia Roberts' brother". Riding in the same boat and alongside Roberts is another potentially great actor who has also seen starrier nights. Sadly, after his stellar yet biopic roles as Jim Morrison in The Doors and Doc Holliday in Tombstone, Val Kilmer's choice in films also started to slide, and has never really picked up past the millennium.

The Chaos  ExperimentClosely resembling his spiraling depth into madness last seen in The Island of Dr. Moreau, Kilmer's role here is that of a deranged psychopath terrifyingly depicting the existence of a very thin line between brilliance and insanity. As a nut job former professor, Kilmer's Jimmy Pettis heads to a leading newspaper and forces the editor to publish his predictions of doomsday thanks to unheeded signs of global-warming. What grabs the editor's attention is not Jimmy's twitchy eyed psychosis, but his confession that six individuals held hostage in a steam bath will melt from the inside out if his predictions are not published on the front page. Enter Detective Mancini (Armand Assante), who promptly takes Jimmy away for interrogation in the hopes of determining the location of the steam bath before it takes its toll on the hostages.

Meanwhile, the steam bath in question is heating up with three semi-nude women and three equally clad men, meeting for the first time after joining a mysterious online dating service. After individual introductions complete with personal likes and dislikes, they soon realize the claustrophobic dangers of being locked in a steam room. Even as a futile attempt is made to break out of the increasingly intensifying heat, madness dawns on them with murderous rage.

Back in the holding cell, Mancini grows impatient with every involuntary twitch of Jimmy's eye. When he reaches an infuriated level of frustration, Jimmy starts to reveal how each of his victims meet their grisly end. With no way of knowing how and when the hostages are dying, Mancini concludes that Jimmy is either delusional or worse: his victims are already dead.

Rating this film as a no brainer would be an understatement for this reviewer. For starters, this has to be the most absurd plot ever heard of in a film, even if it has all the looks and feel of a low budget B movie. Moreover, little known director Philippe Martinez clearly shows his novice level of proficiency in cinematography, colors, and angles of framing; an undeniably unforgivable flaw. Editing takes the worst hit with totally incoherent sequences defying any logic when dialogues are spewed from characters framed in several places at the same time in the same take.

As a reviewer, it is my job to give you an unbiased and honest opinion on whether a film is worth your time and money. In doing so, I almost always restrict my recommendation within parameters of two and four star ratings. However, what we have here is a sad excuse of a film that lacks even the fundamentals of an average quality thriller. If I can force myself to conjure up any positives, it would have to be towards Kilmer's acting with some form of support from Eric Roberts and Patrick Muldoon as two of the six steam room victims. The rest are not worth mentioning at all, including Armand Assante and his vague ventriloquist-like dialogues.

Avoid it like a plague or waste two hours of your valuable time. Your choice.

Component Grades
1 Star
1 Star
DVD Experience
1 Star


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging