The Scoop: 2006 NR, directed by Craig R. Baxley & Michael W. Watkins and starring Peter Krause, Kevin Pollak, and Julianna Margulies
Tagline: Some doors are better left closed.
Summary Capsule: Man gets key to mystery hotel room, and everyone wants a piece of him (and the room)
Justin’s Rating: What’s room service like in hell?
Justin’s Review: Hands up if you ever stayed at a hotel room that felt just a bit… off. Creepy. Otherworldly. Now, hands down to those of you who feel compelled to obey suggestions from internet movie critics.
I’ve done my fair share of hotel living, from luxurious four-star suites to Day’s Inn’s “Ultra-Harsh Florescent Lighting” décor. No matter how nice the place is, it’s best just to not think about all the former inhabitants of your room, what they might have been, or what they did right where you’re sleeping. Usually I just cocoon myself into my suit bag, hang from the coatrack, and pray that I’ll make it to see another morning before the inevitable serial killer crawls through the vent shafts and bleaches my skull for his collection.
The really nifty thing about the miniseries The Lost Room is that it’s such a simple premise that feels universal once you start to think about it. Imagine a hotel room from the 50’s where… something… happened, and now it doesn’t exist in our world any more. Instead, it’s been yanked out of reality, along with a hundred or so ordinary objects that now exist “elsewhere”. Imagine that some of the objects were taken from the room, where they were discovered to possess special powers if used certain ways, like a pen that can microwave human flesh, or a watch that can hardboil an egg. Imagine that the objects could be combined to form more powerful effects, and that there are several factions around the world desperately scrambling to collect them all. Okay, now we’re just sounding like Pokémon. Moving on…
Now imagine that you’re an ordinary police detective named, I don’t know, Joe, and played by Peter Krause. As Joe, one day you come across the most extraordinary object of them all: the key. The key that can be used on any door (with a lock) to open up a portal into the lost room. You go into the room, and could come back out from any door in the world. Sounds fun, no?
That’s what Joe thinks, until his world goes to crap, not including commercial breaks. The crazy secret factions are gunning for him, and an accident causes his daughter to vanish when she goes into the hotel room without him and it “resets”. Where is she now? What happened to the room in the first place? Who should Joe trust, and why?
The questions might just drive you mad. More so, because they’re never fully answered to your complete satisfaction in the three-part miniseries that undoubtedly was created as a test pilot for a potential series.
Don’t get me wrong – there is a story arc here and a conclusion of sorts, but by the end you’ll still have far more question marks than periods. If open-ended ambiguity is acceptable to your diet, then The Lost Room holds a great treasure of storytelling and imagination.
In many ways, The Lost Room reminded me of Lost (with its onion layers of mysteries) and Twin Peaks (without the donuts or owls). However the caveat to series like these is that people love to be teased with mysteries and clever imaginative elements, but they are quick to turn rabid mad if they don’t get the answers at a satisfactory pace or if they feel cheated in the end.
Joe’s our Everyman who slowly brings us into this strange new world that hides in plain sight of normal reality – a bit like the Muggle/Wizard worlds of Harry Potter. We soon learn that the factions have been sparring for years, that not every object is understood, and that unhappiness and potential Armageddon follow the holders of the precious objects. It’s a great moral dilemma: if you were offered a superpower that would let you do something incredible, but it would ultimately make your life miserable, would you take it? For many of the people in The Lost Room, the answer is yes.
Acting-wise, we flop to all corners of the spectrum. Krause is adequate as a nice guy, but not outstanding. Julianna Margulies (ER) as his love interest/double-agent is less-than-adequate. Her pinched squints wound my sensibilities. Wally (Peter Jacobson) is the breakout character who endears himself to all of us with his neurotic mannerisms and love of using his object to send people that annoy him to “hell”. Finally, they scored a major hit with snagging veteran character actor Kevin Pollak to play one of the big movers and shakers of the object underworld. This guy can be a lovable doofus in one movie, and a source of believable evil in the next, and handle both with incredible ease.
I do hope we see another miniseries or (better yet) a green-lit series to continue with this story. The Lost Room is far too clever, scary and eerie to be relegated to the graveyard of unanswered “coulda beens”.
- During the first episode “The Key”, Miller leaves his daughter with a child psychologist in a clinic. When he is leaving, you can hear a call for a “Doctor Sonny Gupta” via the speaker system of the clinic. “Doctor Sonny Gupta” is a character in “Kingdom Hospital”, written by Stephen King and directed by Craig R. Baxley.
Matt: What does the gun do?
Joe Miller: It shoots bullets. Really fast.
Joe Miller: What about the Bus Ticket?
Wally Jabrowski: Not that useful. Unless you want to get to a little spot outside Gallup, New Mexico in a jiffy, which I don’t.
Joe Miller: Why Gallup?
Wally Jabrowski: Why not?
Wally Jabrowski: For your crimes against decency, and politeness, and common courtesy, I condemn you to hell!
Eddie McCleister: There’s a price for everything, Joe. This is the price. This is the price to get your daughter back.
If you liked this movie, try these:
- Twin Peaks
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe