What an amazing piece of junk cinema this is. This is a classic example of someone not knowing quite what to do with the material. A judicious editor could have turned this into a classic harrowing story of teen angst and social responsibility. Instead it's a schlockfest of horror and some of moments which, in better hands, may have provoked unease and shocked audiences into contemplation of the situations at hand, instead provoke hilarious laughter. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but I don't think it was an intentional choice.
Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed "Animal Room" for all the wrong reasons.
Matthew Lillard gives what is quite probably his best performance, and it's wasted here. But it's still worth watching. As another review stated, "we all know young men like him" but Lillard pulls it off with a sincere creepiness and unrelenting
Neil Patrick Harris' as Arnie breaks out of Dougie Houser mode, and although he professes resistance to being part of this group experiment of social misfits, he otherwise acquiesces to his plight and it's difficult to feel any empathy towards to a character who constantly reminds everyone who much more brilliant, witty and crafty he is than everyone around him. Of course, were this to be remotely true, there wouldn't have been a movie.
As Arnie's old best friend, Gary, Gabriel Olds turns in a shiny, performance as the golden boy who wants to help Arnie get back on track. His performance, even as good and genuine as it is, can't help but provoke more laughter so out of place is it here.
It's also fun to see Catherine Hicks relieved of "7th Heaven" goodness as a creepy, alcoholic Mom who can't seem to keep her hands off an uncomfortable young Gary.
Again, there was a good idea here, but it wasn't developed. To start with the premise is completely unbelievable - not farfetched or impossible, which is acceptable in the right hands, but simply unbelievable. It's difficult to move beyond that. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed "Animal Room" - but then again, I'm a misfit!