Room for Rent is maybe one of the most uncomfortably real horror movies I've seen in a while. Tackling some honest and often unspoken issues with elder care and human connection with the added flare of murderous obsession, the film will definitely make you reconsider not only the coldness of peer-to-peer experiences, but about the genuine interactions we have with strangers and friends alike. I mean, how well do you really know your neighbor or, for that matter, the person whose home you just rented for the weekend or the Uber driver who carried you there?
Joyce (Lin Shaye) is suddenly widowed when her husband dies in a tragic home accident. The doting housewife who always tended to her husband's needs, she learns immediately and harshly just how isolated she has become. From the empty funeral service to her devastated finances and the harassment of a teenager at a nearby skate park, Joyce is well and truly alone. During a trip to the library she comes across a magazine that talks about turning her home into an online b & b. Her first guests are a young couple and she immediately bonds with Sarah (Valeska Miller) who is an aspiring author. Staying in touch as new guests come and go, Joyce goes through a bizarre mental transformation as she becomes obsessively connected to her final tenant Bob (Oliver Rayon) with gruesome results.
Lin Shaye is a treasure as an actress and nothing proves it better than her performance in Room for Rent. The sense of loss, of complete directionless loss in Joyce is palpable and her desperate search for something to hold on to is heartbreaking. Her reaction to the ongoing assault and harassment of the skater punks, the mental health and identity crisis that she spirals through are all so emotionally eviscerating on their own. But to see them escalate into the violence and obsessive mania that they become by the end of the film is something else. Lin Shaye is the only actress who could have so masterfully been both vulnerable and terrifying in a single role.
There isn’t a lot in the way of special effects as Room for Rent is most definitely a psychological horror. The production value itself is more mid range to low which would genuinely be an issue if it wasn’t for a decent story and the already mentioned phenomenal performance. The ending of the film is genuinely creepy and disquieting and leaves your imagination with a new set of horrors as the end credits begin to roll. All in all, it is a well written, excellently executed film that’s worth a watch when it hits streaming services May 7th.