“Room” is a terrifying film because it feels so real.

Although the story originated as a work of fiction by Emma Donoghue, the audience is aware that people being kidnapped and held captive isn’t out of the ordinary. The realistic approach that director Lenny Abrahamson takes allows the audience to imagine what it is truly like for one to be in this situation.

The first half of the film is shot entirely in a small garden shed. The shed has been home to Ma (Brie Larson) for seven years and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) for the first five years of his life. Ma had been kidnapped at the age of 17 by a man named Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), who tricked her into thinking his dog was sick, luring her into his grasp.

Ma comes off as a defeated woman who has given up on any hopes of being rescued. Jack is the only thing that keeps Ma’s spirits up. Jack had been born inside of “Room” (what the two of them have named their living space) believing “Room” is the only thing that exists. Ma has sheltered Jack all his life from knowing the real reason why they are stuck in “Room.” When she finally thinks up a plan to escape, she is forced to tell him the truth about what is really happening.

It is not a spoiler to say that the two of them make it outside of “Room;” it is shown in the trailer. In the second half of the film, the audience is able to examine how Jack and Ma adapt back into the real world. Jack on one hand is adapting to a new world that he never knew existed. Ma on the other hand is re-adjusting to a world she once knew.

Ma crumbles from the guilt she had from bringing Jack into the world while still inside “Room” bothers her. Jack at first is shy around the new faces, but soon becomes comfortable in the new world.

The performances and the chemistry between the two leads is outstanding. Brie Larson is the standout this award season with her performance as Ma, and most likely will be the one accepting the Oscar this month. Newcomer Jacob Tremblay steals the film with his brilliant performance as Jack. The two manage to draw a lot of empathy from the audience. The side characters of the film even have an impact on the audience.

Joan Allen plays Grandma and Tom McCamus as Leo. Allen gives a heartfelt performance as Grandma; she manages with her limited screen time to allow the audience to feel for her character. McCamus is a standout on screen playing Leo; watching as he helps Jack readjust to this new world is a delight. The casting for this film was done perfectly, none of the actors could be replaced.

The film never feels slow, it takes its time examining these characters and how they transform from who they are in the beginning to who they are by the end of the film. “Room” is a dark yet enlightening film that allows its audience to be captivated not only by the onscreen talent but the narrative of the film as well.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Keith Kennedy at torch@valpo.edu.

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