I Knew You Weren’t Dead
Set in a single hotel room, Room 104 is an anthology of short stories that, whilst missing the mark more often than hitting it, is a bold, experimental series with some interesting ideas. With a stylistic flair and some bold choices of colour and lighting, Room 104 works more as an appreciation of the art of film and what can be done with a simple premise rather than an endearing, engrossing series. For this reason, Room 104 is certainly an acquired taste and one that ultimately makes it difficult to recommend for mass appeal.
The stories vary with each passing episode and with it, so too does the genre used. Jumping from thriller to horror back to light comedy again, Room 104 manages to do a good job of experimenting with its premise and making the most of the cheap set design – with the entire 25 minute episode taking place inside one hotel room. The drawback to doing this is that there’s only so much you can do to shock and awe audiences before the stories feel stale and outstay their welcome, especially with the minimalist approach to the musical score. With one episode entirely devoted to interpretative dance, another showing a tiring conversation about using a computer and a strange, hypnotic tale about “transcending”, there’s certainly a more experimental nature at play here that won’t appeal to those looking for a more conventional series to sink into.
The comparisons will inevitably be made to other shows that follow this short story approach – especially with some of the surprise twists and shock endings feeling parallel to that of Black Mirror. The ever-changing tone and feel of each episode makes it difficult to settle into a rhythm though and the short length of each story makes it difficult to become invested in the characters.
Some of the script writing isn’t great either – the dialogue is questionable at best and at other times its downright poor. The lack of music and the static camera angles that dominate most of the episodes put the spotlight squarely on the characterisation and scripts. Its a shame then that so many episodes here fail to hit the mark. The idea is intriguing enough and a few episodes are surprisingly well crafted but on the whole, Room 104 feels like a lacklustre series, lacking the spark needed to make it an endearing watch.
Overall, Room 104 is a strange collection of stories that vary wildly in quality and execution. A lot of the episodes come across as student film projects; setting aside the plot in favour of interesting stylistic shots and experimental stories doesn’t always work well. Arguably, Dimension 404 is a better series in this respect, managing to weave the experimental style stories whilst maintaining a consistent theme. Its not a bad series though and some of the episodes are genuinely well constructed but with so many lacklustre episodes in a series full of stories, its hard to recommend this show.