The Movie Waffler New Release Review [VOD] - THE ROOM | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [VOD] - THE ROOM

the room shudder review
The new owners of long dormant home discover a secret room that grants their every wish.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Christian Volckman

Starring: Olga Kurylenko, Kevin Janssens, John Flanders, Joshua Wilson

the room shudder poster

"Be careful what you wish for" is a premise that has fuelled countless tales of terror, from WW Jacobs' 1902 short story 'The Monkey's Paw' to the recent big screen reboot of cult TV show Fantasy Island. It's a notion that backs up our accumulated wisdom that everything comes at a price and life rarely offers up shortcuts to happiness.

The latest horror movie to explore this idea is The Room, from French filmmaker Christian Volckman, best known for his 2006 animated thriller RenaissanceOlga Kurylenko and Kevin Janssens play Kate and Matt, a European couple who move to upstate New York hoping to rebuild their lives following two miscarriages. They purchase a long dormant but spacious manor and are bewildered to find it powered by an intricate system of almost intestinal cabling, which baffles the electricity worker they call out to take a look at it. The sparky also clues them into why the house has remained unoccupied for so long - in 1975 its residents were murdered by 'John Doe', a mysterious young man whose identity was never established, as though he appeared out of nowhere.

the room shudder review

While renovating, Matt discovers a secret door hidden behind a facade, which leads to an empty room. Initially Matt makes it his hideaway, sneaking into the room late at night to get drunk. Polishing off a bottle of whiskey, he remarks aloud how he really needs another bottle, and lo and behold, following a flicker of the lights, a new, full bottle of hooch appears on the floor of the room. Matt makes further requests, and comes into possession of originals by some of history's most famous painters. When he introduces Kate to the room's powers, she request a million dollars, and finds herself instantly minted. The pair bask in their seemingly new found wealth and throw a party for two, ordering the finest food and drink from the room.

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Of course, it turns out there's a major catch. Anything produced by the room rapidly ages and turns to dust once removed from the house, which makes requesting money pointless. After making this discovery, Matt is troubled to find Kate has asked the room for a baby, and her wish is its command, with a newly fashioned rugrat popping out of thin air. When Kate takes the baby outside, it ages and takes on the appearance of a 10-year-old boy. While Kate continues to care for the boy as she would any child, Matt is more understandably creeped out by this strange being now living in their home, and tracks down John Doe (John Flanders), now resident in a local asylum, in search of answers to the room's mysteries.

the room shudder review

What we have here is essentially a Twilight Zone-esque modern riff on 'The Monkey's Paw'. In that Victorian era story a mother and father wish for their dead son to return, but are terrified by the mangled corpse that subsequently knocks on their door. Director Bob Clark elaborated on this idea with some success in his 1974 chiller Deathdream, in which a young soldier returns home to his parents having been pronounced killed in action in Vietnam. The version of their son that returns has newly malevolent intentions towards Mommy and Daddy. That's the case with Shane, the boy Kate conjures up and who displays increasingly creepy behaviour. It seems Matt and Kate are in danger of becoming the latest victims of a mysterious John Doe.

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Given its high concept premise, it's a little deflating when The Room settles into a supernatural riff on The Bad Seed and becomes little more than another generic creepy kid thriller. The possibilities of the magical room are barely explored, by neither the film nor its protagonists. This is glaringly evident in the production design - aside from Matt's collection of classic paintings, the house is barely furnished. Given how the room only allows for the innards of the house around it to benefit from its powers, wouldn't Matt and Kate turn their home into the most palatial residence imaginable? Matt and Kate's interactions with the outside world are practically nonexistent, and the film never explores the idea of their newfound wealth shutting them off from the rest of the world.

the room shudder review

The setup of The Room has all the makings of a cracking instalment of a horror anthology, but at 100 minutes it both fails to satisfyingly dig deep enough into its own mythos and struggles to pad the running time with the scary sprog subplot that ultimately takes precedence. The Room boasts the sort of intriguing hook that will lure in horror fans, but in this case you might want to be careful what you wish for.

The Room is on Shudder now.

2020 movie reviews