REVIEW: ROOM (2015)

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ROOM (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Room is the heartbreaking story of a young woman, Joy Newsome (Brie Larson), who was kidnaped at age seventeen and held in a storage shed for seven years by a man she knows only as Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). The only thing that means anything to her, is her five year-old son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who was conceived from Nick’s nightly visits. All Jack has known is captivity inside the four walls of what they call ‘room’ and after a daring escape, he and his mother are finally free. Now Jack has to get used to a whole new world he has never known and his mother must re-acclimate to a world she never thought she’d see again.

Lenny Abrahamson tells a powerful story from Emma Donoghue’s script adapted from her book. The first half of the film paints a harrowing portrait of captivity and the crushing acceptance by the subject of her situation. At the same time we get the perspective of a child born in that captivity, who knows nothing else. If not for the love of her child, Joy might never think at this point of escape, but does so that Jack may be free. Once they do escape ‘room’ it becomes a powerful tale of a young woman trying to readjust to a world that has drastically changed while she was away, such as her parents’ divorce and that she last saw her home as a teenager. On top of that it’s a story of a young child discovering a whole new world he’s never seen before and it’s a little overwhelming for both of them. Add in the pressure from the media to make them a news sensation and Joy’s father’s (William H. Macy) rejection of Jack because of how he came to be and there is a lot of emotional turmoil. Abrahamson tells the story skillfully and without overdone melodramatics. The subject of Nick’s repeated rape of the now compliant Joy is done so deftly, that it is far more powerful than if the moments were portrayed far more graphically. A lot of the film is very subtle and while it does have some strong dramatic moments, the director resists taking advantage of the emotional weight of what unfolds and never makes it manipulative. Our emotional reactions are genuine, not provoked as in  the cookie cutter, feel-good flicks Hollywood likes to churn out. It’s far more gratifying to feel strongly because of what you are watching unfold, than to have things unfold specifically to elicit a strong emotion rather than narrative necessity.

The cast, especially our leads, is fantastic. Brie Larson deserves the accolades she has gotten for her role as Joy. She gives the part such a subtle strength as we watch her try to be the best mom she can while held captive in that room. Once free, she conveys the complex emotions of readjusting to the world with simple facial expressions and body language. Again, all this is accomplished without overblown melodramatic moments, Larson is most effective in Joy’s quieter moments with simple glances and looks. Young Jacob Tremblay is simply amazing as young Jack. He is simply perfect as a little boy raised in a very confined space, yet still eager and imaginative, creating his own little world. Once outside, he portrays a little boy both awestruck and afraid at the breadth of his new surroundings and terrified that what was familiar to him is now gone. He is simply brilliant, all the more so for being just eight years old when this began filming. Joan Allen gives a strong performance as Joy’s mother, a woman who is trying to be patient and supportive of her returned daughter and her new grandson as they adjust to life back at home…or in a new home in Jack’s case. Macy is only onscreen in a limited role, but his selfish refusal to accept little Jack does elicit strong reaction thanks to the actors intense portrayal of this rejection. Sean Bridges is also only onscreen briefly, but we get a sleazy and domineering individual in Old Nick whom may not be the focus here, but the strong characterization makes the oppressive atmosphere of ‘room’ believable.

A great movie without a doubt. An oft told story from a unique perspective that draws emotions out of you with sheer story telling and not plotted manipulation. Add in two brilliant performances from Brie Larson and her young costar Jacob Tremblay and you have a powerful and satisfying drama about how love does indeed conquer all.

-MonsterZero NJ

4 stars.

four stars rating

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: GINGER SNAPS 2 and GINGER SNAPS BACK

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Ginger Snaps 2

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GINGER SNAPS 2: UNLEASHED (2004)

(WARNING!: if you have not seen the original Ginger Snaps, this review contains spoilers for that film.)

Actually a pretty decent sequel, Unleashed finds an infected Bridgette (Emily Perkins) fighting the transformation while being haunted by her dead sister, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and hunted by a male werewolf looking to mate. She first finds herself stuck in a women’s clinic where the staff attributes her claims of lycanthropy as a product of her addiction to the monkshood, which is actually slowing the transformation. But there she meets, Ghost (Tatiana Maslany) a strange, comic book obsessed girl, but the only one who believes her, so she reluctantly bonds with her. As her perspective mate draws near, Bridgette and Ghost escape to Ghost’s home deep in the woods for a final confrontation with a few surprises of it’s own.

Brett Sullivan does a good job of continuing John Fawcett’s saga yet making this flick in his own style. The first half is a little slow, but Bridgette’s plight in the clinic is well done and holds our interest and gives us a little time to catch up with the character since we last saw her and get to know the eccentric Ghost. Sullivan then cranks things up quite a bit once the vicious male finds and invades the clinic and the girls subsequently escape to the cabin to take it on. There is some nice gore and the film has a different visual style then the first film, but not one that alienates fans of that film. There are some likable supporting characters such as clinic director Alice (Janet Kidder) and unlikable ones like jerk orderly Tyler (Eric Johnson) and Sullivan gets serviceable performances out of them all including strong work from his leads especially Maslany who really gives new character, Ghost some interesting quirks and layers. There is some nice suspense and action especially in the last act and overall it’s a sequel that should keep Ginger Snaps fans happy enough and certainly doesn’t dishonor the cult classic original. A better than average sequel.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 sexy she-wolves!

ginger 2_3_snaps rating

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Ginger Snaps Back The Beginning (2004)

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GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING (2004)

Grant Harvey helms the second sequel which is actually a prequel/retelling set in the 1800s that was shot back to back with Ginger Snaps 2. Frontier set film opens with the Fitzgerald sisters, or their ancestors, it’s never quite clear, Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and Bridgette (Emily Perkins) lost in the wilderness and finding there way to a remote outpost that is besieged by werewolves who are slowly decimating the occupants. The girls are reluctantly let in, as they don’t trust strangers, but since they were led there by an Indian hunter (Nathaniel Arcand) well known to the men, they gain entrance. Soon after, Ginger is bitten by the lycanthrope infected son of the fort leader, Wallace (Tom McCamus) who hid the boy in a small room to avoid him being destroyed by his men. So now the sisters have to deal with not only the wolves prowling outside, but the distrust of the frightened men inside and a slowly transforming Ginger.

Third Ginger Snaps took an interesting route and it works well enough. The film has a nice visual style to complement the setting and story with a lot of scenes lit by fire and filled with menacing shadows. There is a lot of gory action especially during it’s last act that involves touches of hallucinations from Indian practices and a siege on the fort by the wolves led by Ginger. It’s an entertaining addition to the series that, while not fully explaining itself, does seem to set up the curse and the possible bloodline to connect to the original Ginger Snaps, if you want to view the girls here as ancestors. It has it’s flaws such as some very stereotypical characters and basically a replay of Ginger’s infection from the original, but the girls carry the movie once again and it gets points for going a different route. There is also a lot of blood soaked carnage and some nice atmosphere, so when all is said and done, this third Ginger Snaps flick is still bloody fun and fits into the series well.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 sexy she-wolves!

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Check out my review of the original Ginger Snaps!

Also check out what I thought about Katherine Isabelle’s latest movie, the 2013 original horror thriller American Mary and my Halloween Hotties profile of this talented actress…

 

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