Shudder Short Film Review: THE ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS

Briony Kidd's critically applauded THE ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS was released to Shudder on February 6th, giving us the opportunity to finally witness the acclaimed Tasmanian short film for ourselves. 

In a brisk 15-minutes, THE ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS tells the story of a young artist (Fiannah de Rue) who feels overshadowed by a charismatic girl that she's never met.  Her life begins to change, however, when she follows in the footsteps of her nemesis. 

What I found most surprising about Kidd's short is that it's not really a horror film, at least not in the traditional sense.  This is a coming-of-age story told with an old-school, Gothic flair.  The ghosts of the film aren't literal spirits, but the everyday woes that haunt our lives: the struggle to fit in, the pain of being overshadowed, the fear of simply being ourselves.  If you're expecting frights from THE ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, you may be disappointed to find that Kidd has aimed her film at the more subliminal fears within us all.  If you allow yourself to slip into the film's mysterious atmosphere, though, you may find that she hits her mark. 

Mentored by Jennifer Kent, director of THE BABADOOK (one of my personal favorites), Briony Kidd establishes herself as a master of her own craft, staging each shot so that it evokes an uneasy feeling within the viewer and writing a beautiful lyricism from her own script.  In addition to Kidd, Fiannah de Rue is especially great in the lead role, credited simply as "Girl".  Presenting her awkward character as mystery unto herself, the viewer accompanies the character of her self-identifying journey and we're ever-entranced while doing so. 

In summation, if you're looking for a traditional horror film with scares aplenty, THE ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS may leave you rather disappointed.  If an impactful, unique coming-of-age story sounds like you're cup of tea, however, I recommend that you drink it up.  I expect big things out of Briony Kidd, and you should too.  

Curt Oglesbee

Check out THE ROOM AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS on Shudder today!