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With its multicultural trio of protagonists, an upbeat sense of female solidarity and a complete absence of exploitative imagery, Room 213 offers something very rare today: a horror movie which provides wholesome entertainment with hardly a nasty shock throughout its 80-minute running time.
Based on veteran young-adult fiction writer Ingelin Angerborn’s award-winning 2011 novel, Emelie Lindblom’s first feature film is a simple, smooth and serene paranormal drama devoid of violence or unspeakable traumas.
Having just opened in Sweden after its January bow at Goteborg, Room 213 — which should not be confused with the 2008 Filipino erotic film of the same name — is a good fit for festivals dedicated to young audiences. (The film will follow its appearance at Hong Kong’s Filmart with screenings at one of these events, Malmö’s BUFF.)
The title to Lindblom’s film alludes to the long-unused room in which three teenage summer campers — Elvira (Wilma Lundgren), Meja (Ella Fogelström) and Bea (Elena Hobsepyan) — are placed when a broken tap floods their dorm.
As strange things happen, like distorted photographs, dizzy spells and disappearing possessions, the three girls start to become unnerved by their suspicions about each other and also whispered rumors of a ghost haunting the grounds. Their fears add to a listlessness brought about by their budding feelings for their fellow campmates.
Room 213 (or Angerborn’s source material, for that matter) doesn’t position the supernatural as a manifestation of repressed, wayward sexual energies in its young characters. Rather, the film simply offers an invisible, scary presence awaiting release after spending years in the dark, with the reason of its existence left frustratingly vague.
This probably proves to be Room 213’s weakest link, leaving the narrative dangling with an anti-climax which might disappoint even the least canny of a young filmgoer. But viewers will probably find solace in the pic’s young cast, whose unshowy performances invite the kind of interest and empathy that their highly strung, squealing Hollywood counterparts wouldn’t.
Even with its odd play of genre devices, Room 213 remains a prim, po-faced horror story for the young.
Production companies: Danske Skalle
Cast: Wilma Lundgren, Ella Fogelström, Elena Hobsepyan
Director-casting: Emelie Lindblom
Screenwriters: Martin Jern, Emil Larsson, based on a novel by Ingelin Angerborn
Producers: Martin Jern, Emil Larsson
Director of photography: Emil Klang
Production designer: Miriam Myrtle
Costume designer: Sandra Woltersdorf
Editor: Margareta Lagerqvist
Music: Hans Lundgren
Sales: Media Luna
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