ROOM 203 is an American movie adaptation of Nanami Kamon’s horror novel about a sinister apartment. Without reading the book, it’s impossible to know how the script by John Poliquin and Nick Richey & director Ben Jagger serves the source material.
The best things about the film, in any case, are not any mythological surprises, but rather the excellent lead performances by Francesca Xuereb and Viktoria Vinyarska as lifelong best friends and new roommates.
Xuereb plays Kim, who has just enrolled in college to study journalism. She moves in with Izzy (Vinyarska), an aspiring actress with a drug problem. Izzy has been in a tailspin since her mother died. After at first bowing to her parents’ distrust of Izzy, Kim rebels and takes an apartment with her pal.
Apartment 203, called “Room 203” by everyone (even though that seems like honoring the book’s title at the expense of how Americans talk about rental units), is a spacious two-bedroom on the mostly empty upper story of a residential apartment building. (Why a unit on the tenth floor or higher is numbered “203” is also not discussed.) Creepy landlord Ronan (Scott Gremillion) is Kim and Izzy’s only neighbor on the floor.
The place boasts great views, plus an astonishing stained-glass window that depicts acts of ferocious violence. For some reason, the rent is surprisingly reasonable. There’s also a small hole in the wall that absolutely refuses to be caulked or even covered over. When Izzy reaches into it, she finds a lovely antique pendant necklace, which she promptly wears.