Movie Review: ‘The Oak Room’ is a Dread Fueled Wonder

Movie Review: ‘The Oak Room’ is a Dread Fueled Wonder

August 25, 2020 0 By Jeff Fountain

If anything, Black Fawn Films has great timing. The latest project, The Oak Room, is a claustrophobic small set delight, perfect for the current self-isolation and safe distancing times we are living in. Tension fuels the dread in this film that, while a departure for Black Fawn, is an impressive step for them in evolving overall.

The movie centers around drifter Steve (RJ Mitte) and bartender Paul (Peter Outerbridge), two men whose dialogue and mood switches back and forth from hostility, friendship, and curiosity. They set the stage in the barroom setting and Steve begins to tell the tale that digs up old history, and after being away for years, there is a lot of history too, mixed with present-day information, it all collides in a very interesting way.

Outerbridge and Mitte have some great chemistry together, body language, and verbal outbursts making the scenes seem very real and believable. The supporting cast has some memorable moments, particularly Nicholas Campbell (Gordon) and Ari Millen (Michael), both for different reasons. Millen is especially interesting in his role as the strange bartender, with a scene that many won’t soon forget.

As with the I’ll Take Your Dead, The Oak Room raises the bar for Black Fawn Films yet again in terms of direction, sound, and cinematography. Director Cody Calahan moves the story along at a good pace, not an easy feat with a movie that only switches locations a few times and is heavy on the one on one dialogue. The music is never overpowering yet you are very aware of it and the film itself looks fantastic, from the shots on the actors themselves to the way the set is lit.

There is a lot going on in some of these very personal scenes, and Calahan does a great job in building up the dread as the movie moves along. The dread hangs over the bar, the people, everything, and you can always feel it there, something that is not easy to pull off. The themes are heavy and deep, especially diving into the father/son dynamics, but the focus is always there, which as a viewer I really appreciated. There were a few times where the dialogue/story felt a bit too drawn out, but those moments were fleeting, thankfully.

The Oak Room is not an easy watch and I took some time to digest everything before sitting down to write this review. Everyone involved was on the same page and it showed, making the slow burn pay off by the time the movie came to an end. The strange and ambiguous characters, paired with some solid acting and a dread-filled atmosphere, made this movie a joy from start to finish.

Four stars out of five