“Picture this: a couple on the verge of turning 40 move into a massive fixer-upper of a house. Names: Matt and Kate. Occupations: Artist and translator. However, this is no ordinary house and deep within the interior of the house the couple will find an even more extraordinary room. A room which grants their every desire. Wishes are meant to bring happiness, but soon this couple will discover some wishes have their own desires”...
Appearing to come from The Twilight Zone, Shudder’s The Room found itself at various festivals (as well as the winner of Best Feature film) and starting today the film can be found streaming on Shudder. Do not go into this film expecting a haunted house story with lots of jump scares or gore. Director Christian Volckman (Renaissance) tries creating more of a philosophical horror by taking an existential heavy premise and mixing in a few run-of-the-mill haunted house tropes.
Shortly after Matt (Kevin Janssens) and Kate (Olga Kurylenko) move in, the couple busies themselves with unpacking and dismantling a gigantic pile of furniture expertly stacked against a random wall. Once removing the clutter, Matt finds a curious looking door with an even more bizarre key. A secret room not disclosed during the buying process? How curious. Before the couple can explore their new home further, a local man informs Matt and Kate how the house stood unsold for a long time due to the previous owners dying inside. The newspaper referred to the events as the “House of Blood” and the murderer became known as the Springwell Killer. So, the typical groundwork for a haunted house story has been laid. But this movie isn’t about a house. It’s about just one room.
Further inspection of the house and more specifically the room, Matt discovers an overly enthusiastic and complex wiring system connects the entire house to the mystery room. So, once the room becomes freed from behind all the discarded furniture, the rest of the house flickers as a demonstration of the room’s power. During a late night of drawing and researching The Springwell Killer, Matt accidently learns the room grants wishes. With each request, the lights surge and a low rumble comes from somewhere deep within the house. Sharing his find with his wife, Matt and Kate quickly acquire large piles of money, booze, clothes, and priceless art.
Curiously, the little bit of character development we get comes from the character’s wishes. Kate hates her job, so she immediately asks for money. In fact, she eventually “aborts” her career as she has everything she needs in the room. On the other hand, Matt, who loves his job as an artist, does not even think to ask for any kind of hard currency. Instead he finds fulfillment from making some of the most inspirational art appear in his house.
Basically, the room becomes the ultimate “smart home” for Matt and Kate but instead of playing a song or sharing the weather forecast, the magical room “downloads” every item the couple could want. The requests become more and more creative, until the high of receiving lavish and unexpected gifts wears off and Kate grows bored with the allure of having whatever she wants. Possibly because what she really wants is a baby. People always think of what they would wish for, but what would your Wish wish for? What if you were what your Wish wanted the most? Confused yet? Good, now you are ready to watch The Room.
The endless number of wishes allows the movie to set up nicely for a “Monkey’s Paw” type plotline, but the story gets in the way of the plot actually developing. Predictable twists and an unnecessary amount of exposition adds more story than required from a two hour movie. Direction wise, the film seems to want to cover too much ground instead of containing itself to an easily accessible horror film. Olga Kurylenko adds a bit to the film, but ultimately, she cannot carry the whole movie and she gets no assistance from the other characters when it comes to acting. If you are a fan of Nietzsche, perhaps this film will present some engaging discussion after the fact, but while watching the film you will find yourself underwhelmed.
“To the wishes that come true, to the strange, questionable desires of the human animal, who find their wishes taking on a life all their own. To Matt and Kate, a couple looking for a way to complete themselves, who have taken the blank canvas of an empty room and changed it into a private hell. It can happen in The Room.”
You can now open the door on The Room via Shudder.
By Amylou Ahava
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