Director: David Shin
Starring Ayumi Ito, Shogen, Shugo Oshinari
Having recently moved into her boyfriend’s apartment, Yumi (Ayumi Ito) finds herself alone when he has to go to New york for business. Communicating through the internet, she and Taka (Shogen) make sure to spend time with each other despite the long distance and difference in time zones. With unfamiliar surroundings and an increasingly bizarre series of occurrences, Yumi begins to suspect that she is not actually alone in the small apartment.
An entry in the found footage genre, The Room uses Skype video perspective and PC windows to tell most of the story which carries with it its share of benefits and shortcomings. First, the very lovely Ayumi Ito (wholly underappreciated in my opinion) does an admirable job carrying the film with some surprisingly believable acting to go along with the generally straightforward storyline. She emotes very well and numerous long takes help to showcase her execution and professionalism very well. Also, Director Shin could do much worse than have the viewer look at Ito’s face for most of the running time. Shogen’s Taka assumes the role of the disbelieving boyfriend and does a solid job trying to rationalize and calm down Yumi’s increasingly unhinged behavior. As the viewer we are able to sympathize with Yumi from the get-go but Shogen’s portrayal is both believable and realistic given his role and character’s scope of knowledge of the circumstances.
Sticking very closely to the premise of pieced together video logs and internet recordings, the film tends to have a bit of a bland look. Small touches like changes in lighting or the addition of scored music (which removes itself from the format a bit) help to add variety, but the subject matter does tend to meander a bit during the character’s’ arguments and discussions about their day. The film does deliver a handful of well executed scared but in terms of storytelling, it doesn’t really deliver anything groundbreaking.
Competently done and with a very compelling performance by Ayumi Ito, The Room is an interesting but straightforward film that is unable to use the ‘gimmick’ of online found footage to set it apart from a bevy of solid Japanese horror/thrillers released in the last few years. Despite this it is still more than a solid picture that perhaps embraces the modern J-horror trends more than it buckles against.
Thanks to Tidepoint Pictures for providing a review copy!