Review Index



Give this no-budgeter a try: it’s frustrating and inconclusive, but also brilliantly filmed and arrestingly weird (and not to be confused with THE ROOM).

The Package
     This Texas-based indie from 2005 was partially funded by the Texas filmmaker Richard Linklatter, of SLACKER, DAZED AND CONFUSED and A SCANNER DARKLY fame. ROOM was acclaimed at film festivals and nominated for multiple Independent Spirit Awards, but it, like most independent films, made little-to-no impression commercially (it was overshadowed by that other ROOM film mentioned above). It was released on DVD, at least, by Hart Sharp Video.

The Story
     Julia is a Houston-based woman working two jobs to keep her family afloat. Suffering from exhaustion, Julia begins suffering migraine headaches in which an assortment of odd visions fill her head: sun shining through a window, a rippling puddle, rusting pillars, etc. These things eventually coalesce into a vast warehouse-like enclosure.
     This “room” recurs in her mind until one day it’s followed by the sound of an airplane. This inspires Julia to impulsively head to her local airport, where she boards a plane to the first available destination: New York City.
     In NYC Julia doesn’t exactly fit in, despite running into a childhood friend. Said friend puts Julia in touch with a realtor, who shows her around a couple of lofts that Julia hopes might correspond with the room of her visions. They don’t.
     Julia tries finding the desired room on her own but has no luck. She visits a psychic who only creeps her out, and is picked up in a bar by a redneck. This does nothing to help Julia locate the mysterious room, at least until a woman gives her a card with a red arrow on it. From there Julia sees arrows on the ground everywhere she goes, which lead to a nondescript building whose elevator Julia rides to the top floor, where…

The Direction
     Don’t get too excited about the film’s ultimate revelation, as it’s a bit of a bust. Precisely what Julia’s mental room signifies, or whether it’s supernatural in origin, is never explained. The mystery is most likely psychological in nature, and possibly political, judging by the constant references to President Bush and the Gulf War.
     Yet viewed purely as an eerie and entrancing mood piece the film excels. Writer-director Kyle Henry contributes gritty handheld camerawork, kinetic editing and a superbly moody score that all-but radiates unease (the music is credited to The Crack Pipes, Lysergic Dream and Loscil).
     The lead performance of Cyndi Williams is paramount to the film’s effectiveness. Not only does Williams really look like the white trash Texas resident she plays (extremely unusual even in independent cinema), but she’s very compelling to watch as her character undertakes a desperate quest whose true nature she herself doesn’t fully understand. Interestingly, Henry doesn’t have Williams ever vocalize why she does what does, instead letting her gestures and facial expressions tell the story, which it turns out is really all we need.

Vital Statistics

The 7th Floor/Cinepraxis

Director: Kyle Henry
Producers: Jesse Scolard, Allen Bain, Darren Goldberg
Screenplay: Kyle Henry
Cinematography: P.J. Raval
Editing: Pete Beaudreau
Cast: Cyndi Williams, Kenneth Wayne Bradley, Alexandra Kiester, Jacqui Cross, Gretchen Krich, Carlos Trevino