The Oak Room (2020)

In bar, in the middle of nowhere in Canada on a cold, stormy night, a man returns to his hometown with tale to tell and so much more.

Written by Peter Genoway and directed by Cody Calahan, the film is a slow burn of all slow burns, it takes a very long time establishing its players and its story, giving the audience more than enough time to just look for clue in the story itself and in the story told within the main one. There is a bunch of details here, but the fact remains that the film more than takes its time to get to anything. This means that some viewers will give up before things get to their main point and before any horror starts. The film works as a slow burn, but it could have used either a bit of trimming or a bit more action of interest within its stories. A lot of it is talking, which is well written and brought to the screen, but something feels like it’s missing, like there should be a bit more. Perhaps it’s done this way to lull the viewer into a false sense of comfort or let them setting in properly before getting to the main part of the story. The ending itself is well done and makes the whole film worth it. Another sequence that needs noted here is the opening which puts a chill down the spine with a cold you can see and feel as well as a bit of dread in the air.

The cast here is minimal with just a few actors doing all the talking, keeping things in focus on just a few people in the story. In the lead story teller part of Steve is RJ Mitte who gives a performance that takes a while to connect because it feels too cold and too detached at first. There is something there that feels like it’s missing which could be why the story ends up feeling much the same way at first. Thankfully, his performance grows on the viewer and makes things better as it does. Playing the not-so-happy for the visit bar owner Paul is Peter Outerbridge who gives a great performance here, growing in and out of annoyance and adding layers to his character that make him feel like the central character here. His performance makes his come off as the star of the film. Playing Richard, a traveler in one of the stories, is Martin Roach who steals the show with just a short screen time. His performance is one that grabs the attention whenever he is on screen and makes the viewer want to see more of him and his character.

The film may be slow, but it looks great. The cinematography by Jeff Maher gives some stunning images like the ones in the snow and some of the angles in the bar. There is something to be said for a carefully framed and lit film that gives the whole a much higher quality. The images here are beautiful in many places. The opening is an eye-catcher as well, grabbing the attention with beautiful images that make everything feel cold and dreadful from the get-go.

The Oak Room is a film that will appeal to lovers of really slow burn stories and to those with patience who like to be told stories within their films. It’s a decent effort, but as mentioned above it feels like something is missing for a good part of the film. The performances are overall good to great and there is a bit of gore for horror fans and those who like a bit of blood within their character-acting. There’s a bunch in there, yet it feels a bit long for some reason that is hard to pinpoint.