What happens when someone who just finished Splice decides they want to make a movie using “The Monkey’s Paw” formula? You get The Room. By the way, why are there so many films named “Room”? We have the infamous The Room with Tommy Wiseau, the Academy darling Room with Brie Larson and now this movie. Not to mention all the films with the word “room” in it such as Escape Room, Marvin’s Room, Panic Room, and Green Room. That’s too many. Think of some new titles people!
Directed by Christian Volckman, The Room is a French-English thriller in a claustrophobic setting about a young couple who discovers what happens when you get everything you could ever want. People aren’t supposed to get everything that they want. Can you imagine the chaos? Kate (Olga Kurylenko) and Matt (Kevin Janssens) learn this the hard way after they move out of the city to live a more authentic, healthy lifestyle. Which apparently means they have to live in the middle of nowhere in a house built in the 1920s.
Creepy house in the woods is never a good idea
It’s clear that no inspections were made before they purchased the house. Underneath is a maze of wires no one can explain, the electricity seemingly comes from nowhere, and most importantly, there’s a secret room hidden behind the wallpaper that’s essentially life’s ultimate vending machine. It has the ability to create any object a person wishes for, and within a matter of days, Kate and Matt lose all sense of reality.
Their reaction to the room is just as you’d expect: feverish excitement. They wish for riches, valuables, exotic food, rare paintings and artifacts that they disregard just as quickly as they wished for them. Kate quits her job and their rising stacks of instant cash barricade the windows blocking out the sun. There is no exact timeline but it’s clearly only been a few days since their discovery, but that’s all it takes for the two of them to get locked up in a cave of imagination.
There’s a whole lot to be said about consumerism here. The film features a montage of their short-lived fun that’s oddly unsettling to watch, especially when it hits the slow-motion button. The way their hollow smiles turn almost manic and they dance like children in shiny costumes. The whole sequence could have taken place in an asylum. As things progress, Matt begins to question the presence of the room and learns of a double homicide that took place in the house years before they arrived. The man charged with the crime is known only as John Doe and when questioned by the police claimed: “the room made me do it.” Everything wrong about the room said in just six words.
The Monkey’s Paw
As mentioned above, The Room appears to have taken themes from W.W. Jacob’s short story, “The Monkey’s Paw”, and gave it a unique Freudian twist. About a couple that tempts fate with their wishes only to realize that everything comes with a price. In the case of this film, the price is that everything made in the room cannot leave the house. Once taken outside, it ages and turns to ash.
Knowing such a boundary exists shouldn’t be an issue. It’d be easy to just wish for things to use and/or enjoy inside the house, but the power of the room and its limitless gifts distance people from reality and when humans can’t separate fiction from reality they make dangerous decisions. After failing to have a child, Kate does the unthinkable and asks the room for a baby. This is the point in the film where I wanted to throttle this woman. When Matt comes home to find his wife, stars in her eyes, playing with a strange baby, you know instantly what he’s thinking; this is the end. She looks deranged, and it only gets worse from there.
I’m not going to give away anything else. Just know that it’s dark, twisted and at times shocking. Though everything maintains a quiet atmosphere. A subtle unease perfect for creating suspense. One thing I want to point out though is the accents in the film. The husband has an American accent and wife a French accent but the baby made in the room ends up speaking with a British accent. Where did that come from? I know it because the actor picked for the role came from the UK but still, it’s weird.(4 / 5)
All photos belong to Shudder.