room 203 | ben jagger | john poliquin | nick richey | francesca xuereb | viktoria vinyarska | eric wiegand | ghost | ghosts | haunting | haunted | possessed | mythology | united states | based on | novel | nanami kamon | scott gremillion | rick lecour | quinn nehr
Film: Room 203
Director: Ben Jagger
Writers: Ben Jagger, John Poliquin and Nick Richey
Starring: Francesca Xuereb, Viktoria Vinyarska and Eric Wiegand
This is a movie that I got the chance to see as a screener thanks to Justin Cook. I read a bit about the movie from the press release that came with it and it sounded interesting enough. I did see that this was based on a novel written by Nanami Kamon, which intrigued me. Other than that, I came into this one blind. I’ll be brief here and give that the synopsis which is: two best friends and roommates are terrified by the vengeful spirits dwelling in their apartment.
For this movie, we start hearing music coming from a box and chanting in what appears to be a different language. It also looks like they’re doing a ritual. It then shifts to a guy who is fixing up a room. This is an apartment and the last tenants moved out. There is a hole in the wall. Despite having fixed it, the putty is falling out. The guy’s boss tells him that this always happens. No matter what they do, this hole won’t go away. Our guy puts his arm in the hole and finds a necklace. His girlfriend shows up there later and he gives it to her. This becomes a nightmare though when she kills herself.
The movie then takes us to Kim White (Francesca Xuereb). Her parents are driving her into the city. They’re Samuel (Patrick Kirton) and Ann (Susan Kirton). They aren’t happy though. They are quite upset with their daughter and scolding her. What they say is quite hurtful as well. They tell her that if she is serious about this to not come home and ask for their help. We learn the reason is they don’t like her best friend Izzy Davis (Viktoria Vinyarska).
I’ll introduce her backstory here, as it is tragic. Her mother died of an accidental overdose. We will see that Izzy has her own demons as she looks to be in the early stages of alcoholism. She is moving here to be an actor where Kim is going to the local college. Her major is journalism. Izzy is a bit shocked that Kim’s parents didn’t come in to help her. Upstairs, they’re greeted by their landlord of Ronan (Scott Gremillion). He informs them of the rules, which includes to not remove any of the furnishings in the apartment. They’re not to touch the stained glass window that is in the apartment and the basement is off limits.
We see our two ladies as they settle in. Their first night involves some heavy drinking. Kim notices the wallpaper that was put up is loose. She then finds the hole and it freaks her out. She tries to put a mirror, but it won’t stay. This is just the start of weird things that happen. Izzy finds the necklace from the beginning in the wall and decides to wear it.
From here, Izzy goes out every night and it ends with her getting an audition. Kim oversleeps her orientation, but in the process meets Ian (Eric Wiegand). The two of them hit it off. Things don’t go as planned though as Izzy spirals. Odd things start to happen and they have nightmares. We see there could be a murderous and vengeful spirit living in their apartment or is Izzy doing these things while sleepwalking?
That is where I’m going to leave my recap and introduction to our characters. Where I’m going to start is that we have a good set up here. I’ll be honest though, it is a bit generic to other movies you’ve seen if you’re a veteran horror fan. I like what they do with creating characters with a bit of depth though. We are mostly focusing on them so that is where I’ll start as well.
Since Kim is our lead, she will be the first character to delve into. It is interesting in that her parents seem normal. They’re overbearing, but they also say some hurtful things toward her. She is trying to better herself. It might not be according to their plan. It could be a bit over the top, but I also have seen parents like this. What I do like is that she is going to school for journalism. It explains why she is doing the investigation to learn as much about this apartment that she can. What I will also say is that I think she fits as our lead. Xuereb is also quite attractive.
Where I’ll go then would be her roommate of Izzy. She is interesting as the rougher one. She reminds me during my college years. She is a bit wild and wants to go out all the time. She has lofty dreams of being an actor. We do see that she has a dark past with her mother’s suicide. It feels like there are unresolved issues there. She is turning to drinking as a way to cope. The beginning stages of addiction lead me to how the story is presented.
Now for this movie, much like many in this subgenre, we are getting that there could be a logical explanation or something supernatural. For the former, we could say that Izzy is killing people in the apartment. The opening scenes disprove this, but I like that our characters don’t know about that yet. Izzy is drinking a lot. She also reveals that she used to sleepwalk. We also see that she has a temper. You could explain that she is spiraling here and killing people. As I said earlier though, we know about the first death and that there is something supernatural here. Much like her co-star, I’d say that Vinyarska fit the role and she also has a good look for the role.
Something I should say, I’m a sucker for mythology. When you have a story like this and can introduce lore that is new to me, you have me hooked. This one is using a Celtic goddess named Morrígu as its entity. It is supposed to be the goddess of war, death and revenge. This is fitting and I like what they dig up about it. There are things that we see that are incorporated. If anything, I could have used more to be honest.
I do have to go over to a negative though. This movie pulled in my interest, but it becomes a generic ‘ghostly’ movie in my opinion. It is a bit of a shame. There were some reveals that I saw coming. Some of things that it built up don’t have a strong enough payoff for me. None of these ruins the movie. I’m not sure I will come back to as it doesn’t stand out due to this though.
From there, I would say that the rest of the acting is fine. I think that Wiegand and Gremillion are both solid enough in their roles. Neither of them gets a lot of screentime and they are there to push our two roommates to where they end up. We don’t get much in the way of effects. From what I remember, there was some CGI that didn’t look great. Not enough to ruin the movie. The practical effects were fine. I do think this movie is shot well though. I did want to give credit to the cinematography. Other than that, the soundtrack fit for what was needed without stand out either.
In conclusion, this movie had some promise, but it doesn’t do much to set it apart. I like the lore they are using here as it is something different. I think our two leads are solid and the rest of the cast helped to push them where they needed to end up. The practical effects were good while some of the CGI makes it feel cheesy. I do think the cinematography was solid and the soundtrack was fine. This movie is a bit generic unfortunately. Not one I plan to revisit, but if you are into movies like this, it is worth a viewing.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Room 203 will be available nationwide on all major VOD platforms, including iTunes, Prime Video, DirecTV, Cox, Time Warner, Dish, Vudu, and Google Play on April 15th, 2022.