Dir. Stefano Lodovichi (2022)
A woman who decided to kill herself is interrupted by a man who claims to have booked her guest room. When her estranged lover joins them, all hell breaks loose.
The film opens with Stella (Camilla Filippi) standing on the edge of a window ledge in the pouring rain, her soaked wedding dress and running mascara belying her intentions. She has decided to kill herself because of her marital struggles, recently separated from husband Sandro (Edoardo Pesce). Before she can make the fatal decision to step from the ledge, her doorbell rings… and doesn’t stop. She has a visitor, Giulio (Guido Caprino), who says that he has booked her guest room for the night despite Stella’s insistence that they haven’t booked the room in ages. He convinces her to let him stay, and as the evening continues, he shows that he knows far more about her and her house than she would’ve thought possible. It is under this conceit that La Stanza begins to weave its tale of psychological horror, gaslighting, and isolation.
Beautifully shot and with some fantastic acting by all three members of the cast, La Stanze is a terrifying home invasion thriller with an unconventional format. The score is haunting, mostly just low background noise that lends an air of unease to the proceedings. It’s a one-room tour de force, deeply disturbing and shockingly intense. The film deals with the trauma of a separated family and the reverberations that the selfish actions of those involved leave behind. I was able to predict the twist fairly early, but this rings as one that’s going to blow some people’s minds.
The film is haunting, one that will make you question every relationship decision you’ve ever made and hope that the ghosts of the past forget your address. I cannot say enough how incredible the acting was in this film, especially Caprino who is deliciously menacing. The movie felt more like a stage play than a movie, owing it’s taut pacing and bizarre believability to the claustrophobic setting that seemed to get more dilapidated as time went on. It’s always difficult to see a film like this coming from another country because I know how difficult it is going to be to track down Stefano Lodovichi’s films in the future, but I will definitely be on the look out for his future efforts because he is clearly a talent that should not be overlooked.
The past, of course, echoes into the future, and to a certain extent the future echoes into the past. The decisions we make are, more often than not, dictated by our desires for the future. It is when we callously disregard the consequences of our actions that they are most likely to impact our outcomes, but if we are focused on the impact that our actions will have on future generations (and ourselves), we are more likely to make wise and selfless decisions. Lodovichi reminds us of this, and he delivers the message strongly that we need to care for the people around us here and now lest the future be forever altered.
Who this movie is for: Psychological horror fans, Dramatic horror fans, Marriage therapists
Bottom line: This movie is drab and gorgeous at the same time with a score that delivers a ghostly backdrop for the trauma to which the audience bears witness. The acting is nothing short of phenomenal, and I can’t wait to see more from this whole cast and crew. Stellar film, highly recommended if you get the chance to check it out.