Written and directed by Srwsht Abarash, a young man checks into room 217 in an old hotel on a rainy night. Soon he begins to experience hallucinations that lead him to believe he is living the same time over and over again. He frantically tries to find a way out. Starring: Zheer Faraidoon and Abdulrahman Mohamad.
Any fan of The Shining will immediately clock the reference, Stanley Kubrick altered the room number to 237 for the film at the request of the lodge owners, in Stephen King’s novel it was 217. Knowing that fact immediately dials in to a number of the choices of the filmmakers, the first being the colour scheme. The fantastic use of green to push the air of mystery, tension and suspicion throws back so lovingly to the film. It also touches slightly upon the style of Guillermo del Toro, in that its has a mix of stylish, vintage and offbeat, as well as through its great choice of location and set design. It has a noir feel and the cinematography has a superb texture to it, helping form a fairly timeless air, which then feeds into the psychological tone.
Srwsht Abarash’s writing style leans very deeply into the mystery, it allows your imagination to fill in the gaps and keeps things simple yet psychologically complex. There’s a touch of Inception to its intermingling layers. It moves with a good pace, adding to its tension and suspense as it moves forward. There’s a good amount of space for interpretation, whether your perspective may be that the character is stuck in hell, limbo or otherwise, there’s no definitive answer which is not always a positive but here it certainly is. Its only real weakness is that there isn’t a key element to leave a more lasting impression but that doesn’t stop you from enjoying it.
There’s precious little to learn about Room 217’s lead, but Zheer Faraidoon still manages to connect on a number of levels. He gets across a confidence with also a vulnerability and maybe even a little naivety. There’s a solid sense of curiosity and his fear and confusion is portrayed very well by Faraidoon, he brings a relatability and sympathy. Abdulrahman Mohamad’s performance as the hotel manager is extremely restrained by the story, there’s a specific attitude for him to portray but he ticks all the boxes and satisfyingly provides exactly what’s needed.
Room 217 is a loving nod to The Shining both aesthetically and thematically. It’s shot well, builds a great amount of tension and suspense, as well as having a rich texture to its visual. It’s a story with a well done balance of simple and complex, the idea isn’t complicated but the psychological inferences it creates are more layered. It’s a solid concept and one that leaves you wanting more.