Review: THE ROOM, The Place Where Something Strange Happens
Olga Kurylenko and Kevin Janssens star in a thriller from director Christian Volckman ('Renaissance'), now available on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray.
A translator and an artist move into an old house that can make wishes come true. As a reminder (for non-horror fans): Be careful what you wish for.
Kate (Olga Kyrulenko) and Matt (Kevin Janssens) move into a good-sized house in the middle of Nowhere, USA. Recently arrived from Europe, the home's isolation suits them well: Matt is an artist and Kate is a freelance literary translator.
Built upon an original idea by Christian Volckman, who made the visually striking Renaissance (2006), the film quickly establishes the relationship between Kate and Matt. They are a loving couple and are content to leave each other to do their work, which is facilitated by the size of the house.
Matt, however, becomes distracted by his discovery of a secret room, and is compelled to investigate further when he learns of a notorious crime that was committed in the house. Soon he stumbles upon the accidental realization that the room can somehow grant (material) wishes and shares this with Kate, and together they are caught up in seeing all their dreams come true.
Kate, however, has always dreamed of having a child. Can the room do anything about that wish?
Written by Christian Volckman and Eric Forestier and directed by Volckman, the three-act structure is traditional, yet still allows for a good deal of imaginative variations to play out. Beyond the visual treats, what I found especially inviting is the way the film sways back and forth between the primary characters, empowering first one and then the other to carry the narrative weight forward.
Olga Kurylenko navigates the changing nuances of her character with great skill. At first, Kate is a strong, steadying complement to Matt, gently bolstering his artistic instincts while continuing her own exhausting work as a foreign-language translator.
She is ready to share with him in his joys, though she harbors her own questions about the room. Eventually, she follows her own instincts, even though it could rupture their relationship, and she is the one who must make the truly hard choices that face them.
The film looks lush and exquisitely designed, which serves as a good backdrop as the story unfolds, twists develop, and the pace quickens.
Summing up: Following certain expected paths and detouring around others -- without resorting to bloody thrills -- The Room becomes ever more intriguing and compelling as it plays to a satisfying conclusion.
Review originally published in March 2020, when the film debuted on the Shudder streaming service. As of July 21, 2020, the film is available to watch on various Video On Demand platforms, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray.