Dir. Trevor Juenger (2022)
A young woman with an overbearing mother finds herself blamed for the disappearance and apparent death of a man who claims to be immortal.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
If you’ve spent a good bit of time around older people you’re probably well aware that they love to tell stories about their lives. Wedged firmly into Erikson’s final stage of human development (thanks, Psych 101!), they’re battling with the determination as to whether they have lived a meaningful life. They often try to achieve this meaning by teaching their lessons to the younger generation, a practice that has basically been responsible for the entire history of the transfer of human knowledge. But what do you do when those stories get weird? I mean weird like saying they’re cursed with immortality by a mermaid who saved their life, to grow old and sick without the ability to pass peacefully, or at all? The Man in Room 6 is here to answer that question in what is destined to become a weird, arthouse indie horror hit with some excellent performances and a bizarrely bewitching story.
The story is haunting, made ever more so by the gorgeous score that delivers chills in the background of the most dramatic scenes. Bill Oberst Jr. is outstanding, delivering a remarkable performance as William (that immortal dude), while Jackie Kelly is stellar as Carrie, the audience for William’s tall tales who may have secrets of her own. Director Trevor Juenger is a force, capturing a beautiful film with an otherworldly, dreamlike façade that belies the terrifying underlying story. It feels like a slightly less fantastic Del Toro film. The Man in Room 6 is a film that contains fantasy and horror in equal measures, stretched into an epic drama that spans almost a century. It’s an incredibly ambitious film, and it speaks to Juenger’s immense talent that it never feels stale or monotonous. It’s maybe a tad convoluted near the end and the ending could have used a little work, but the film overall is a mystery that is worth the effort to solve.
It would be easy to criticize the runtime, at just over two and a half hours. After watching, though, I can’t think of any particular scene that I wouldn’t include, and apparently this was cut down from the initial plan of having an hour more added in. I almost feel like it should be longer, and I totally get the desire to stretch it for another hour. It feels almost like a limited series, the kind you’d see on HBO or one of the streaming services. The pieces fit together like an epic poem, with every scene necessary to recount this tragic fairytale. I’m hard-pressed to even start a horror movie with such a daunting length, and while it’s rare to find one that lasts this long, it’s even rarer to find one that’s worth it. The Man in Room 6, my friends, is well worth the investment.
Who this movie is for: Arthouse horror fans, Indie horror lovers, The elderly
Bottom line: A gorgeous arthouse film with an eerie, surrealist flair, The Man in Room 6 manages to hold its audience’s attention despite an overly long runtime. It’s equal parts bizarre and haunting, a showcase for the considerable talents of director Trevor Juenger. While it may be too long for some viewers, it’s a quality film that deserves to be seen. I highly recommend you give it a shot if you get the chance, it’s one of the better and more bizarre indie films I’ve ever gotten the chance to watch.