July 21, 2020 The Room (Movie Review)
The Room is the most-watched Shudder Original of 2020, thus far, and one of the most watched original premieres in the history of the service. If you are not a Shudder subscriber, do not fret: RLJE Films has acquired select rights to the Thriller and will be delivering it to VOD, Digital HD, DVD, and Blu-ray on Tuesday, Tuesday, July 21st, 2020.
The claustrophobic shut-in film stars Olga Kurylenko and Kevin Janssens in a fairly simple premise that opens up a complex network of troubles for a pair of European transplants living in America. So when Matt (Janssens: Vermist series, Revenge 2017) and Kate (Kurylenko: Quantum of Solace 2008, Mara 2018) purchase a stately old home in the country, they discover a hidden room that possesses all the powers of a magical genie lamp.
Suddenly every day’s a party! The walls are hung with Van Goghs and Cézannes, Kate is bathed in to die for haute couture and showered in gemstones, and Matt is literally licking champagne off the floor and eating money. When you can have ten of every material item that you have ever desired, you begin to take what truly matters for granted. So the couple agree to focus on a real goal: having a baby. Unfortunately, the moral of this story is an easy one to guess: every wish has a consequence—and some are dire.
Directed by Christian Volckman (Maaz short 1999, Renaissance 2006), The Room was written by Volckman along with Sabrina B. Karine (Call My Agent series, Simon’s Got a Gift 2019), Eric Forestier (La troisième partie du monde 2008, The Tears Thing short 2019), Gaia Guasti (Pas sages 2004, The Woman from the Sea series), and Vincent Ravalec (Portrait des hommes qui se branlent short 1995, JCVD 2008). Clocking in at 99 minutes, the film also features the acting talents of Joshua Wilson, John Flanders (The Connection 2014, Moonwalkers 2015), Francis Chapman (Vain short 2015, The Unreal Root 2016), and more.
Part wish-granting lamp in the form of a vaulted room, though with a hint of Wicca’s three-fold law, The Room is a modern day fairy tale cloaked in the form of a Thriller with textured layers of peeling drama and dusty mystery. While old houses that bear their own secrets are hardly a new addition to the Thriller and Horror genres, The Room takes the trope into a fantastical realism that allows for a focus on its overt moral commentary. Due to the innovation of Volckman and co., what could have been a fairly succinct film about a couple who grow old together, swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck, and shunning real world responsibilities evolves into an intriguing ride that will keep you guessing. Though there is a predictable twist in the not-quite shocking denouement, the film manages to be no less enjoyable.
Building off one another’s talents, Volckman’s cast and crew elevate their production with their careful attention to detail. From the crisp cinematography of Reynald Capurro (What the Day Owes the Night 2012, On/Off short 2013) to a wonderfully subtle score by Raf Keunen (The Drop 2014, Racer and the Jailbird 2017) that allows the onscreen action to always remain the focus, The Room does everything right. Not the least of which would be its magnificent cast led by Kurylenko and Janssens. Tasked with bringing the human element of a fantastical tale to life, the pair of experienced actors bring emotion and nuance to their performances. Kurylenko, especially, births the emotionality necessary to portray a doting and loving mother who may not have carried her son in her womb, but loves him no less for this fact.
A standoffish father who questions the decision to wish a child into existence, Janssens is allowed more of the gritty, cynical moments, along with some phenomenal moments towards the film’s conclusion. In fact, these moments allow the actor to truly shine in a role that, until its conclusion, left him to largely exist in Kurylenko’s shadow. And while Wilson, Flanders, and Chapman are all providing supporting roles, first-time actor Wilson also gives a stand-out performance as the sweet-faced and soft-spoken Young Shane. Meanwhile, Flanders amusing delivery of his ‘insane’ role propels key plot points forward, drawing together the strings that allow for the arrival of Chapman and an eerily fierce delivery as the Oedipal complex-suffering Teen Shane.
Again, The Room amounts to a cautionary tale about greed, parenthood, and tearing away the wallpaper in old houses—but mostly those pesky sins of avarice, envy and, to a lesser degree, gluttony. As Flanders’ John Doe literally states in the film: “The only thing more dangerous than a person who can’t get what they want is a person who gets whatever they want.” In this, Volckman’s film asks each of us to imagine how we might handle its titular space: Would we wish for endless bounty and shirk the consequences, or would we live in fear of the endless possibilities that wait at our fingertips? For answers, Cryptic Rock suggests that you seek the guidance of The Room, as we give the film 4 of 5 stars.