Give this no-budgeter a try: it’s frustrating and inconclusive, but
also brilliantly filmed and arrestingly weird (and not to be confused
with THE ROOM).
This Texas-based indie from 2005 was partially funded
by the Texas filmmaker Richard Linklatter, of SLACKER, DAZED AND
CONFUSED and A SCANNER DARKLY fame. ROOM was acclaimed at film festivals
and nominated for multiple Independent Spirit Awards, but it, like most
independent films, made little-to-no impression commercially (it was
overshadowed by that other ROOM film mentioned above). It was released
on DVD, at least, by Hart Sharp Video.
Julia is a Houston-based woman working two jobs to keep
her family afloat. Suffering from exhaustion, Julia begins suffering
migraine headaches in which an assortment of odd visions fill her head:
sun shining through a window, a rippling puddle, rusting pillars, etc.
These things eventually coalesce into a vast warehouse-like enclosure.
This “room” recurs in her mind until one day it’s
followed by the sound of an airplane. This inspires Julia to impulsively
head to her local airport, where she boards a plane to the first
available destination: New York City.
In NYC Julia doesn’t exactly fit in, despite running
into a childhood friend. Said friend puts Julia in touch with a realtor,
who shows her around a couple of lofts that Julia hopes might correspond
with the room of her visions. They don’t.
Julia tries finding the desired room on her own but has
no luck. She visits a psychic who only creeps her out, and is picked up
in a bar by a redneck. This does nothing to help Julia locate the
mysterious room, at least until a woman gives her a card with a red
arrow on it. From there Julia sees arrows on the ground everywhere she
goes, which lead to a nondescript building whose elevator Julia rides to
the top floor, where…
Don’t get too excited about the film’s ultimate
revelation, as it’s a bit of a bust. Precisely what Julia’s mental room
signifies, or whether it’s supernatural in origin, is never explained.
The mystery is most likely psychological in nature, and possibly
political, judging by the constant references to President Bush and the
Yet viewed purely as an eerie and entrancing mood piece
the film excels. Writer-director Kyle Henry contributes gritty handheld
camerawork, kinetic editing and a superbly moody score that all-but
radiates unease (the music is credited to The Crack Pipes, Lysergic
Dream and Loscil).
The lead performance of Cyndi Williams is paramount to
the film’s effectiveness. Not only does Williams really look like
the white trash Texas resident she plays (extremely unusual even in
independent cinema), but she’s very compelling to watch as her character
undertakes a desperate quest whose true nature she herself doesn’t fully
understand. Interestingly, Henry doesn’t have Williams ever vocalize why
she does what does, instead letting her gestures and facial expressions
tell the story, which it turns out is really all we need.
The 7th Floor/Cinepraxis
Director: Kyle Henry
Producers: Jesse Scolard, Allen Bain, Darren Goldberg
Screenplay: Kyle Henry
Cinematography: P.J. Raval
Editing: Pete Beaudreau
Cast: Cyndi Williams, Kenneth Wayne Bradley, Alexandra Kiester, Jacqui
Cross, Gretchen Krich, Carlos Trevino