"Room for Rent" stars Shaye as a lonely widow who rents out a room in her house and becomes dangerously obsessed with one of her guests. The Uncork’d Entertainment release, also starring Oliver Rayon, Valeska Miller, and Ryan Ochoa.
Lonely widow Joyce rents out a room to make easy money. She meets mysterious drifter Bob and takes him in as a long-term tenant. She becomes obsessed with her much younger guest, making him the object of her deepest romantic fantasies. When a friend’s betrayal derails Joyce’s fantasy world, she seizes control of her own destiny with a deadly mission to finally get what she deserves.
"Room For Rent" entices a thriller akin to "Single White Female" or "Hush". A dark and cold killer masking as a loving, comforting matriarchal figure. And to some extent it is. Only the thriller angle is soft spoken and not at all dark. The concept is, but the execution is not. There is no tension or suspense in Joyce's transition from caring to psychotic impulse. To Lin Shaye's credit though, her character portrayal is compelling.
The story is well written and the cast give great performances as these somewhat tragic characters. As a dramatic character study, "Room For Rent" is a perfect 'Lifetime' after dark TV movie. As a full on psychological thriller, the film fails to take off. The pace is too slow and mundane to ever rise above the melodrama. That being said, when Joyce does snap it is quick, and cruel and delicious. The problem is there is no real build to those moments and when it's over the tone goes straight back to sheer melodrama.
The horror elements are minimal in "Room For Rent". Very little violence happens aside from the typical pedestrian concepts. A pillow, a frying pan, and not much else. I think most of the nightmare takes place in Joyce's head, unfortunately it never gets fleshed out. When those moments do happen they are great glimpses into the psychological thriller this should be. Lin Shaye is great at bringing a little needed darkness and cruelty to the scene.
"Room For Rent" will be please Lin Shaye fans, she gives her character as much as she can. As always, her acting is queen. As for horror fans looking for a wicked psychological thrill ride, this one will disappoint. It will have an audience, the writing and acting is quality. All the makings for a good movie are here, its just they came together as a dark drama and not a real horror movie. Check it out if you really enjoy Shaye, but leave it if you want some psycho madness murder mayhem. (3/5)