Room for Rent Movie Review
Written by John Colianni
Released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Directed by Tommy Stovall
Written by Stuart Flack
2019, 82 minutes, Not Rated
Released on May 7th, 2019
Lin Shaye as Joyce
Oliver Rayon as Bob
Valeska Miller as Sarah
Ryan Ochoa as Wayne
I’ve spent my fair share of time in nondescript hotel rooms during my travels. It’s not unreasonable to be weirded out at the idea of how many others have slept in your exact spot on the bed, drooled into the pillow under your head and even the strangers who let them in to clean and make your bed in your absence. Now with the growing popularity of Air BnB, travelers are actively seeking out and choosing to stay in complete strangers’ homes. While some might like the personal touches that are added for guests and the lived-in feeling of a personal residence (which in many instances comes with a lower price tag), a bed and breakfast where the owner/operator is somewhere else in the house creeps me out. For me, there is this diminished sense of security and the feeling that I am paying for the convenience of being a stranger in someone else’s home. Tommy Stovall’s Room for Rent attempts to amplify all of my paranoias.
Joyce has recently become a widow. Spending years in what seems to have been a repressive marriage, Joyce is learning that she was much more reliant on her husband than she previously anticipated. Realizing she is in a dire financial situation, Joyce discovers a magazine article’s quick tip for making money: turning your own home into a bed and breakfast. With just a few guests under her belt, she befriends Sarah, an author whom Joyce becomes pen pals with. With the arrival of a new guest, Bob, Joyce turns from house host to an obsessive stalker who quickly has more sinister intentions than she lets on.
Room for Rent initially has its fair share of creepy moments. I’ve been witness to way too many horror films with sweet old ladies to expect that they’ll stay that way for very long. Lin Shaye (Insidious, Dead End) does a convincing job portraying a lonely old woman who may just be in need of social interaction and purpose after the passing of her husband. This is quickly dispelled with the arrival of Bob. Scenes where Joyce asks Bob to get her a towel while she’s in the bathtub and even uses his toothbrush had my skin crawling. Room for Rent made it easy for me to put myself into the shoes of the characters seeking out a convenient room during their travels and falling prey to a mentally unstable homeowner. Once Joyce’s delusional behavior kicks into full gear, she believes that she and Bob are in a romantic relationship, per penned letters to Sarah. From here, what was once uncomfortable takes a deadly (and disappointing) turn.
I had high hopes for Room for Rent. It checks off a lot of horror tropes that can be played out over time, but with the right care can bring fresh ideas into a familiar landscape. The story starts off at a rather slow pace, which tries to really pack in that creepy and uncomfortable factor that I usually can’t get enough of. Unfortunately for director Tommy Stovall and writer Stuart Flack, I never experience any kind of payoff once a few characters meet their untimely ends. While Room for Rent begins with so much potential to deliver a suspenseful horror film with an intimate cast and localized setting, it ultimately suffers from a lack of momentum to bring any worth-while scares. Even the film’s supposed twist ending is left on a forced cliffhanger that does little to justify its eighty-two minute runtime.
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