‘The Oak Room’ is an Atmospheric but Poorly Paced Anthology Thriller

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer

Plot: During a raging snowstorm a drifter returns to the blue-collar bar in the remote Canadian town where he was born. When he offers to settle an old debt with a grizzled bartender by telling him a story the night’s events quickly spin into a dark tale of mistaken identities, double-crosses, and shocking violence.

Review: I feel like I’ve been saying this a bit too often of late when it comes to the recent line-up of thrillers/horror movies released, namely The Seventh Day, The Unholy and Every Breath You Take. All of these movies had interesting storylines that could’ve made for memorable films, yet all I got from them were of a couple moments that stood out and the rest was all wasted.

Listen to me. I am here to P-A-R-T. Y? Because I gotta!

The streak of missed opportunities continues with The Oak Room, an anthology-styled thriller that kept me invested due to the solid acting by leads RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad) and Peter Outbridge (Silent Hill: Revelation and most recently as Black Mask in Batwoman Season 2). Both actors (especially Outbridge) are engaging enough to carry the story and I was invested in seeing what the outcome of this slow-burn thriller would be. But, just like those previous films I mentioned, the director doesn’t keep a tight leash on the pace, thus losing any momentum these actors built up in between the stories being told. A thriller can’t be thrilling if the pace drags people. I’m no film director, but I would think they would cover that in film school at some point!

I’ll give them points, however, for atmosphere, as the single location of a bar in the middle of nowhere during a blizzard does make you feel a sense of impeding doom. I kept thinking back to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. As overstuffed with dialogue as that film was its icy location made for a great setting, and the same can be said for The Oak Room.

Come on man. Don’t force it. You could burst something. Have you tried prune juice?

The anthology stories do manage to connect to the main one, another plus here, but sadly there’s a total lack of bite to them. And you’re left feeling robbed by all the effort you’ve put into viewing only to have the movie end on a bit of an ambiguous note.

So once again, I’m left saying—strong premise, poor execution. All of these recent movies had decent screenplays, so I’m blaming the directors and editors for the poor pacing and cut-and-paste feeling that this movie gave me. Here’s hoping someone breaks the “meh” streak soon.

Sommer’s Score: 4.5 out of 10

For better cold weather thriller fare you can check out my review of Netflix’s Below Zero by clicking here. Or you can check out my review of snowy Swedish thriller Red Dot by clicking here.

2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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