Cautionary tales warning us to beware of what we wish for date back centuries to ancient parables and fairy tales.
But that doesn’t mean that new films can’t come up with creative (and disturbing) ways to retell that story. The Room is one such film. No, not the Tommy Wiseau version, and not the movie that won Brie Larson an Oscar. We’re here to discuss 2019’s, The Room!
House with Mystical Qualities
The story begins with married couple Kate (Olga Kurylenko) and Matt (Kevin Janssens) moving into a new house with a sketchy past, as is the usual horror film trope. They notice a room in the house with a strange electrical setup, that an electrician tells him he’s never seen anything like.
Soon, Kate and Matt discover that whenever they wish for something in the room itself, it immediately appears. Initially, they have fun with this new “toy”, wishing for money, extravagant clothing, expensive drinks, etc.
But soon, Kate’s desire for a baby (following two tragic miscarriages) leads her to wish for a child, which of course appears. Fearing she may have gone too far, Matt is apprehensive at first. The baby, whom they name Shane, is not like other children however.
For things that the room brings into existence can only exist within the house. Shane himself ages rapidly, even after spending just a few seconds outside.
As he quickly becomes an adult in body (without the mental maturity), he quickly becomes territorial of Kate, and hostile towards Matt. This leads to a tragic conflict between parents and child with unsettling Oedipal implications.
New Take on an Old Story
As previously mentioned, the “be careful what you wish for” cautionary tale isn’t the most original story idea. But where The Room shines is in its imagination and surrealism. As we come to find, the room can essentially create entire pocket worlds within itself. In many ways, it feels more like dark fantasy, than outright horror, but it kind of works.
Despite being set in America, it’s very clearly a European production, which bodes both well for the most part. While it captures a sliver of the surrealism we’ve come to expect from films like Suspiria, Jacob’s Ladder, and the like.
It also adds to the fish out of water dynamic for both characters, making them feel all the more isolated. The fact that 90% of the film takes place in the house also adds to the atmospheric quality.
That said, the house doesn’t quite feel like a character itself, which we should come to expect. The Shining worked so well because the Overlook truly felt like a foreboding presence. And that just isn’t the case here. It’s not a major misstep, more so just a missed opportunity.
Other than some clunky expositional dialogue and merely okay acting between the two leads, The Room is a decent film worth checking out.
It may not be as badly hilarious as the Tommy Wiseau film, or as dramatic and heartfelt as the Brie Larson one, but it pulls some cool ideas together to retell an existing story in a unique way.
The Room is streaming exclusively on Shudder!
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