It’s not often that the Wife and I sit down to watch a movie together. It’s even less often that we watch a horror flick as she generally hates them. We’ve been on what I can only describe as a run lately watching a whopping TWO movies together in the last couple of months. Concussion (starring Will Smith) was the first but not relevant here and Room (2015) starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay was the second. Before I get started here you need to understand that I had no idea what this flick was, but I thought we were about to watch a movie with Bree Olson as opposed to Brie Larson. VERY different flick than the one I was expecting 😉 But I digress…
SPOILER ALERT: This review WILL talk openly about plot points and characters of the film. If you want to experience the film as it was intended please watch it before reading this review.
Plot & Thoughts
Joy (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) live in a shed they refer to simply as Room. We learn rather quickly that they are being held against their will by a man known as “Old Nick” (Sean Bridgers). We later come to find out that Nick is Jack’s biological father. Joy was abducted seven years prior and he rapes her on a regular basis while Jack sleeps in the closet. Jack’s belief system revolves around the fact that everything in Room is real and what he sees outside is nothing more than a television show.
Joy concocts a plan to have Jack escape after playing dead. She wraps him in a carpet hoping that Nick will take him away presumably to dispose of the body. Nick does just that and Jack manages to escape in what can only be described as a heart pounding scene. The police arrive and manage to figure out where Joy is being held and they rescue her and arrest Old Nick.
Reunited with the outside world, the film takes a drastic turn as Joy learns that her folks have divorced. Jack has to learn how to deal with a world that he’s previously thought of as only a television fiction. Joy’s father cannot accept the fact that his daughter had a child conceived from rape and leaves. Joy attempts to commit suicide but survives. At Jack’s request, they return to Room one last time. They say their goodbyes to Room and leave.
OK… this is really a tale of two films. As a parent I had a really difficult time watching the first half of this movie. Mom and son are being held captive and you can’t help to put yourself into their shoes. When you figure out that Jack is the product of rape your heart breaks even more. The plot to escape is full of holes (What if Nick put the carpet in a wood chipper? What if he threw it in a lake?) but you can let it slide based on the fact the Joy was desperate. That small item aside the first half of this film really does hold up against any thriller / suspense flick out there. There’s no blood, no gore and no death but it’s certainly a horrific situation that you can easily understand and go along with the characters.
The second half isn’t a bad film by any stretch but it’s a very different film. It talks about the mundane feel of every day life and shows how these two people would have to deal with being thrust back into reality. It slows down quite a bit here and takes a couple of turns that I actually didn’t see coming. I figured they’d go the “bad guy gets off on a technicality” route and have Old Nick return to torment mom and son later in the film. I’m actually glad they didn’t go this route, though I would have liked to have seen Joy get some sort of revenge on Nick for years of rape and mental anguish. The way it plays out, with Nick never being seen again after his off screen arrest, is probably more true to reality than what I’d come up with in my head.
The acting here from Larson and Tremblay is top notch. The supporting cast of Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers and William H. Macy is strong as well but they don’t have a ton to do except act as every day people would. It’s amazing how much of Room you actually get to see and the 10×10 storage shed actually takes on a roll as well. I’ve never read the book that this is based on but I’m going to add it to my reading list.
This is an easy recommend. Room is acted well and has a completely compelling story even though the back half sort of drags a bit. It’s not what I’d call a horror flick by any stretch but there are definitely some horrific moments and this can easily be categorized as a thriller or suspense flick. Larson and Tremblay steal the show here with performances that are as much believable as they are surreal. Larson won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance and you can see why. If you’re a parent this will take on a completely different feel as you imagine just what lengths you’d go to in order to secure your child’s freedom in what seems like a hopeless situation.
You can find more information about the upcoming Room at the following links:
Have you seen Room (2015)? Leave us a comment with your thoughts!