“The Guest Room” is a freaky thriller about a home invasion that is not exactly as it seems. There are only three people involved, and there is mystery to unravel in the chaos and madness. Many things are not as they seem, and the ultimate goal is what can bring a family together. Couples Therapy has never been so terrifying!
Stella (played by Camilla Filippi) is a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown. She is also on the edge of her bedroom window, in the soaking rain, standing there in her wedding gown. Her thoughts drift to leaping off to end it all. Her husband is separated from her, and she is torn apart by the heartache. She lives in an old creaky house with her young recluse son. He has locked himself in his room and never comes out anymore. Stella cannot take one more minute, but she is interrupted.
The doorbell starts to ring, but it goes on and on like a warning buzzer. She decides to see who it might be. She is hoping that is her distant husband Sandro (played by Edoardo Pesce). Maybe he is going to come back and stay. She gets to the door, still in the dripping gown, and with make-up all streaking down her face.
It is some other man, but she has never seen him before. He says he is Giulio (played by Guido Caprino), and he signed up to rent the room that is in the house. Stella is confused, because Sandro stopped renting that room many months ago. It is no longer on the website for rent. But Giulio is insistent that he is the renter, and Sandro had approved of this. Besides, there is a howling rain storm, and send him off now would be an inconsiderate thing to do.
Maybe just a glass of water, then Guilio can get things worked out. Stella does not like this option, but it is a terrible storm. Guilio comes in and he tells Stella how nice it is to be home. He of course means it is Stella and Sandro’s home, which is lovely. But he tells Stella that Sandro was also going to stop by and meet with him. Could he just wait and work it out with the both of them?
Stella is not sure where Sandro is, and she has not been sure for many months now. But if Sandro had given his OK, and he will be here shortly, then Guilio must be all right. Stella shows him the room to rent. He is very pleasant and he says it would not be a bother if he could get something to eat.
Stella tells him that cannot be done. But Guilio makes himself very much at home. He fixes up some lunch for himself and Stella. Giulio could not wear his own clothes, since they were soaked in the rain. So he helps himself to some of Sandro’s clothes. He shares some pictures he took in an album, and he gets close to Stella.
Sandro does show up, and he is more confused than Stella was in the beginning. He does not think the room was even rentable on the site anymore. So how could Guilio find out about? And why is he wearing my clothes? And why is he asking so many questions about the boy, alone and self-isolated in his own bedroom…
Guilio overpowers both Sandro and Stella. When they wake up, they are tied up in the kitchen on chairs nailed to the ground. Is this some type of robbery, a home invasion? No, it turns out to be more like a forced marriage therapy session!
Guilio has a picture of Sandro, next to a woman and a child. But the woman is not Stella, and the child is not the little boy upstairs. Stella is confused about what this is all about. They are still married, but why is there a picture of Sando with a different family? Guilio thinks that Sandro needs to explain everything and to apologize.
A bloodied Sandro is able to escape his bonds, and he attacks Guilio. Sandro runs from door to door. He finds that Guilio has sealed every exit, with screws and nails. Guilio is out cold, and Sandro makes for the upper floors. Maybe he can find a way out from there. Guilio is revived, and also bloodied and hurting.
But Guilio has revenge on his mind, so he is off to hunt down Sandro. Stella is somehow able to get free. She grabs a knife to defend herself. She does not know why Sandro was happy with another woman and another child. But knows Sandro does not deserve to die. Perhaps Sandro was not the most faithful man, and he did not spend enough time with their child. Does that have anything to do with the mad man who has entered their home and has violently taken it over?
“The Guest Room” (or as it is called in the original Italian “La Stanza” – The Room) has enough amped-up, crazy vibes that will keep you guessing for the entire movie. Not everything is as it might seem in the beginning. However, few characters, and really – there are only a few, have a logical back story.
But they all get a chance to act like a manic-depressive when the time is right. Not all aspects of the story follow through, but it builds some tension and keeps it at a high level. Camilla Filippi (Stella) is really good at acting confused and depressed. Edoardo Pesce (Sandro) is almost as good, but his role is more limited. Guido Caprino (Guilio) is “Best in Show” as the charming psycho who can sweet-talk his way into a house only later to become the Worst. Air-b&b. Guest. EVER!
“The Guest Room” is a cleverly constructed puzzle of pain, which builds up slowly and keeps your heart racing, running, and looking for the door to get out.
The Guest Room (La Stanza)
Written and Directed by: Stefano Lodovichi
Starring: Guido Caprino, Camilla Filippi, Edoardo Pesce
Cinematography: Timoty Aliprandi
Edited by: Roberto Di Tanna
Music by: Giorgio Giampà
Distributed by: Amazon Prime Video
Release date: Oct 25, 2022
Length: 86 minutes
Language: Italian (with subtitles)
MPAA rating: not rated