By: John Allen
Room For Rent is a taut thriller that leaves you squirming with discomfort from start to finish. Starring Lin Shaye, Oliver Rayon, and Valeska Miller.
The movie starts when Joyce (Lin Shaye) becomes a widow after her husbands accident. Like some seniors in her position, she discovers that she has nobody, her finances are not what she expected, and the world doesn’t care much about her. She struggles through the disdain and indifference of society until she comes across an article at the local library about turning your house into a BNB. She has discovered a solution to her problems of loneliness and financial distress. Her first customers are a troubled couple, the husband is rude and abusive, but the wife Sarah (Valeska Miller) is sweet, pretty, and kind.
The two women strike up a friendship and stay in touch after the couple departs, albeit unexpectedly early. Joyce decides its better to rent her room to people for longer stays rather than short visits which would provide her with more security. Joyce meets Bob (Oliver Rayon) who is need of lodgings, and convinces the handsome stranger to rent from her. We soon discover that Joyce has more than a few problems as her true nature and designs bubble to the surface. Bob and Sarah suspect something is off with Joyce, but they are never quite sure what it is.
The strength of this movie is in the acting, particularly on the part of the great character actress Lin Shaye who also has a producing credit for the film. She has always, in my opinion, been an under rated American acting treasure. She plays Joyce with excellent range, cunning, and effortless panache. It is a treat to watch her chew up the scenery as only actresses like her can do. Valeska Miller is a charming revelation as the sweet Sarah, she plays the kind of girl every guy would like to find, the kind you can take home to Mother, but is still exciting and interesting. Which makes her subtle performance a perfect match to Shaye’s measured mania. It was delightful to watch the two at play. Oliver Rayon gives a credible performance as Bob, the bad boy with a heart of gold. Switching between sympathy and umbrage in a smooth and suave depiction of his character.
Room For Rent is by no means perfect. There are some problems with the script, some scenes come off a little corny, and unbelievable, still the basic story itself is engaging, right until the surprising end. I like this film because the tale is worth telling, but mostly because Lin Shaye as Joyce is worth watching especially as a character and acting study. The ending will leave the audience to wonder what else is in store for the lodgers by the mysterious widow with a Room For Rent.
4 rent cheques out of 5