Courtesy Ammo, Inc.

An affordable place to live nowadays is a mixed bag. Whether or not we want to admit it, there’s always a catch. A landlord that doesn’t repair things. Infestation issues. Or, in the case of a horror movie, something spooky is knocking on those walls. The tale of a haunting in a cheap living space is a familiar playground in the horror genre, and will most likely be tapped into more as we all attempt to navigate the current housing/rental market. That said, it is disappointing when you pick up a haunting tale that fails to deliver on the haunting component. Unfortunately, ROOM 203 fits in this category.

The film follows two young women, who have known each other for their entire lives, moving in together in an affordably questionable apartment. Kim (Francesca Xuereb) is studying to become a journalist at a local university while Izzy (Viktoria Vinyarska) is hoping to become an actress. This is while simultaneously dealing with the grief of her mother overdosing. Strange things start to happen not long after they’ve moved in. Mysterious pendants appear in a suspicious-looking hole in the wall. There’s also the oddly concerning medieval scene depicted in a stained glass window. Oh, and the smell of death just started out of nowhere. It soon becomes a race against time for the girls to figure out what’s going on or else risk their lives.

ROOM 203 starts off promising. The set-up to the haunting is pretty clear within the first few minutes of the film. However, while the film starts off with a bang, it doesn’t return to that sense of urgency and shock that was desperately needed to keep the viewer focused. A lot of time is spent on the individual lives of our main characters. Normally, this isn’t a bad thing. However, from a writing standpoint, all the time spent away from the actual haunting itself and more time on expositionary-based filler, makes the story lack focus. This lack of focus will be a deterrent for viewers.

Another deterrent is in the execution of the scares. Much of the build-up seems to happen either offscreen or in poorly lit spaces. The explanation for the haunting itself and the exposition-based research done by Kim and her partner onscreen fall flat in generating investment. After patiently waiting to see where things are heading, it’s difficult to say that the actual horror elements won’t be a letdown. Xuereb and Vinyarska do work to try to give something in their performances to maintain some sense of horror, but it’s not enough to make the impact needed to make the wait seem worth it.

Overall, ROOM 203 is a hard sell. The screenplay written by Ben Jagger (who also directs), John Poliquin, and Nick Richey focuses too long on what the girls are doing in their own lives leading up to the haunting. This ends up undercutting what could have been done with the haunting many will be hoping to see play out onscreen. And, while Xuereb and Vinyarska do the best they can with the material given, the elements that could have made the film work just aren’t there or aren’t well-executed.

ROOM 203 debuted theatrically in selected cities on April 15, 2022, including New York City (The Kent Theater), Chicago (Emagine Chatham), Ft. Worth and Dallas (American Cinemas). ROOM 203 is now available nationwide on all major VOD platforms, including iTunes, Prime Video, DirecTV, Cox, Time Warner, Dish, Vudu, and Google Play.

Sarah Musnicky
Follow Me
Liked it? Take a second to support Sarah Musnicky on Patreon!
Movie Reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: