Room 203 (2022)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph Perry writes for the film websites Gruesome Magazine, The Scariest Things, Horror Fuel and Diabolique Magazine; for the film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope and Drive-In Asylum; and for the pop culture websites When It Was Cool and Uphill Both Ways. He is also one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast and can occasionally be heard as a cohost on Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast.

Director Ben Jagger’s Room 203 finds university journalism student Kim (Francesca Xuereb) moving — very much against her parents’ wishes — into an apartment with her troubled, aspiring actress friend Izzy (Victoria Vinyarska). The young ladies obviously didn’t research their new place of residence well, as it has a very violent history behind it, their titular room in particular. A decidedly chilling stained glass window should have made them question their choice of abode, as well, not to mention that the only other occupant in the building is their suspicious-acting landlord Ronan (Scott Gremillion) and that there is a hole in the wall containing a necklace, both of which, as viewers learn during the film’s cold open, mean big trouble for the two friends and for Kim’s new romantic interest from school, Ian (Eric Wiegand).

Room 203 doesn’t offer much new in the haunted house movie department, offering a side of classic J-horror spice (the screenplay by Jagger, Nanami Kamon, and John Poloquin is based on a novel by Japanese writer Kamon) that also comes off at times as a bit creaky. Jagger invests the film with a brooding, eerie atmosphere, though, serving up some solid visuals and suspenseful set pieces.  Xuereb leads the cast with a spirited, committed performance. Apartment-house horror aficionados, supernatural spookiness buffs, and fans of “college kids in peril” scare fare should find plenty to enjoy in Room 203.

Japan’s Ammo Inc., California-based Ammo Entertainment, and Vertical Entertainment present Room 203 in a limited theatrical release and on VOD from April 15, 2022.

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