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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 17, 2016

Room Movie Review: A True Story That Is More Horrifying Than Horror Films Like 'Insidious' Or 'Sinister'

BRIE LARSON started her career on TV in 1998 when she was 9 years old in shows like “Touched by an Angel” and “Raising Dad”. Through the years she did several movies playing supporting roles, like “The Gambler” and “Trainwreck” (as Amy Schumer’s sister). Now, she is about to win the Oscar best actress award (she has just won the Golden Globe, the SAG and the BAFTA) for her breakout role in “Room”, based on the book by Emma Donoghue who also wrote the screenplay, based on the Elizabeth Fritzl kidnapping case in Austria where the girl was held captive for 24 years and had several kids, sired by her own father.

The film opens with a mother, Joy (Brie), and her 5-year old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) playing, cooking, watching TV, doing normal things inside a small room with only a small window on its ceiling. Then the horror of it all slowly dawns on you. They’re actually prisoners inside that tiny room, a soundproofed shed. This review has some spoilers so if you don’t want to know what will happen, better stop reading now.
Joy was kidnapped by a pervert as a teenager, held captive inside the room, repeatedly raped until she got pregnant and gave birth to her own child. Whenever her abductor comes along to go to bed with her, the boy locks himself up inside the closet. Now that the boy is 5, Joy hatches a plan on how they can escape.

The boy is very bright and precocious. The heart pounding plan calls for him to play dead. He is then rolled up inside a carpet and taken out by their captor. When he is free, he is supposed to ask the help of other people and the cops for them to rescue her mom who is left behind inside the room. Will it succeed or not?
Brie is no doubt excellent in the role of the victim. It’s a role with so much depth and challenge. But actually, for us, the real standout here is Jacob Tremblay as the boy. The whole story is told from his point of view. He is always there. There are sequences later when his mom will be indisposed and won’t be seen for quite a long period of time, but Jacob remains on screen.

Between them, Jacob is the one who is able to adapt more quickly to the outside world, when actually, his own world view was confined exclusively within the walls of their room and he knows nothing of the outside world. And why he is not at all nominated for any acting award is beyond us.

Most movies of this sort would end with the captives finally gaining their freedom, but Director Lenny Abrahamson presents a very complex psychological situation in the film. This is especially true on the part of Joy who has to be deprogrammed after her harrowing captivity experience and finds it difficult to re-adjust back to life in the outside world that can really be quite frightening after she learns her parents (Joan Allen and William Macy) have already separated while she’s away and her mom has even found a new partner.
The result is quite compelling as we are not initially aware of the damage that was done to Joy by her years of imprisonment. What happened to her is truly more horrifying than what happens to the characters in such horror flicks as “Insidious” and “Sinister” that have long ceased to be scary for us and have become more ridiculous. The final scene. where they return to the room and Jack says goodbye to the bed, the chair and all the other things that were previous parts of his young life, is truly a heartbreaker. Jacob Tremblay is for us the most awesome thing in this movie. He will just take your breath away.