Film Review: ROOM FOR RENT (Canada 2017) ***

Room for Rent Poster

When a broke thirty-two year old ex-lottery winner convinces his parents to rent their spare room to save from downsizing, a creepy stranger with a hidden agenda moves in.


Matthew Atkinson

Direct from Manitoba!  I seriously cannot recall any Canadian film from Manitoba (excepting Guy Madden films) but this one is not half bad.  It is in fact, quite good.

Mitch Baldwin (Mark Little) is a classic case of a loser.  As an adult, he is still living with his parents and too unmotivated to work.  Worst still, Mitch had won $3 million in senior year. Three years later, he is flat broke and a laughing stock after becoming famous on TV upon winning the lottery.  The status quo is challenged when his father, Warren (Mark McKinney) loses his job.  Short of money, Mitch convinces his parents to take in a lodger.  The stranger, Carl Lemay (Brett Gelman) turns out more than Mitch anticipated.

Written and directed by Matthew Atkinson, this simple premise proves ample opportunity for twists and turns in the plot.  The stranger Carl is the biggest wild card and Atkinson keeps the secret of who he actually is right to the very climax of the film.

“My parents are hounding me all the time”, says Mitch at one point in the film.  Of course, Mitch does nothing but sit around all day, never looking for work as he is supposed to, expecting his parents to bring snacks and food for him all the time.

Carl does everything that director Atkinson can imagine to annoy Mitch.  And these are really annoying.  

Among them: 

bringing Mitch’s old girlfriend, Lindsay (Carla Gallo) back into the house

bonding with Mitch’s parents – something that Mitch was never able to do

showing up talk to Mitch all the time and lastly

annoying Mitch just because he can

The reason all this works is that Mitch deserves what he is getting from Carl.  Mitch is plain lazy, unmotivated and takes advantage of his parents.

All the above take place during the first half of the film.  Then Mitch starts taking action.  He begins taking a stand and protecting himself against his enemy.  Mitch even starts to gain respect from his ex-girlfriend who begins helping gather evidence against Carl.  All this is made more interesting for the fact that Carl turns out to have a few skeletons in the closet.  The two eventually end up in a face off when Carl confronts Mitch in his bedroom and punctures his waterbed as revenge.

Director Atkinson has a keen eye for comedy.  His comedic setups are meticulous and the humour comes across well.  It helps too that his 4 main actors playing Mitch, Carl and the parents are very good.

A little comedy, a little romance, a little message movie – all surprisingly twisted and unexpectedly inventive for a small budget Canadian feature.  Definitely worth a look.

And the climax where everything about Carl is finally revealed is a real hoot! If the climax does not get one laughing aloud, nothing will!


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