By JAMES TUCKER
Starring: Olga Kurylenko, Kevin Janssens, Joshua Wilson
Directed by Christian Volckman
Written by Christian Volckman, Eric Forestier, Sabrina Karine.
Produced by Yael Fogiel, Laetitia Gonzalez
Listen. I know this column isn’t usually meant for films like THE ROOM; It’s meant more for films like “The Ranger,” or “Perfect,” or “Without Name” (One of those three, by the way, I’m going to be doing soon. I’d say you get a prize if you guess the right one, but… I’m broke. So.), films that don’t usually get marketed heavily by the streaming services playing them. But every now and then something comes up that’s just so good I have to write about it, rules be damned. And not nearly enough people are talking about this phenomenal film, so I’m squeezing this one through on a technicality.
I was not looking forward to watching THE ROOM. Not that I thought it was going to be bad or anything, but its premise seemed like something I had seen a thousand times before, a careful-what-you-wish-for morality tale in the vein of “The Monkey’s Paw,” “Wishmaster,” and… well, about half the episodes of “Tales from the Crypt.” But I got word that it might be something I’d be interested in, that there was more to it than met the eye, and I gave it a shot.
I’m so very glad I did, as I would have missed out on one of the most entertaining and original horror films I’ve seen in months.
“Think ‘Locke and Key’ meets ‘Blood Rage,’ and you’ve just about got this film nailed down.
THE ROOM starts the way you might expect: Matt (played by Kevin Janssens) and Kate (played by Olga Kurylenko) have moved into a derelict house in a secluded corner of New York, hoping to renovate it and start their life together as so many other newly wed couples in horror films. Then they discover the titular room, and quickly find out that whatever you ask for inside, the Room grants you; with a couple of conditions, of course. Not giving a shit about those conditions, the couple has fun with the room for a while, conjuring priceless artworks, wheeling out carts loaded with cash and showering with diamonds. Then, Kate decides to ask the Room for something a bit more serious… and perhaps a bit more permanent.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: this movie is fucking bonkers, y’all. It goes places that, with that simple and well-tread premise, I would never have expected it to go. There are elements of sci-fi horror here, as well as elements and tropes from other subgenres that the film appropriates and transforms to create something wholly original. The film takes full advantage of it’s creative premise and the ambiguity surrounding what the Room can do; if while watching this film you find yourself questioning if the Room can do something, chances are you won’t have long to wait before you get your answer.
Most importantly, the character work was on point. Janssens and Kurylenko are phenomenal and do a great job of making Matt and Kate empathetic and real; they never make unwise decisions that don’t feel grounded in who they are as people, and as they grapple with the consequences of their dealings with the Room, they change in ways that are wholly believable. They seem to age 30, 40 years onscreen… and we feel like we’ve aged with them. The climax of the film, which reads like “Locke and Key’s” take on “Blood Rage” (or another, more influential horror film that just might spoil it, so I’m going to keep my mouth shut), takes full advantage of every possible horrible thing that could happen with the film’s premise and WILL stun and entertain you. Generally speaking, as kind of a side note, I found this film hard to predict: the further you go into the film, the more it plays around with its premise and the genre it established itself in, until you find yourself wondering what exactly you’re watching.
I honestly wish I had more to say about it, but I can’t; at least not without heavy spoilers. I give THE ROOM a solid 9 out of 10. Why? Watch it for yourself. Like our patron saint Joe Bob Briggs likes to say, you’ve seen this before… but you’ve never seen it like this.