Stories are worth a thousand words. Isn’t that how the saying goes? The incredibly haunting score from Steph Copeland opens The Oak Room, a thriller from director Cody Calahan. As a snowstorm rages outside, Steve (RJ Mitte), a young drifter, returns unannounced to a small bar in the town where he grew up, much to the dissatisfaction of Paul (Peter Outerbridge), the disgruntled bartender to whom Steve owes a debt. In order to settle his debt, Steve proposes that he tell Paul of the shocking events that recently took place at the Oak Room bar.

The opening moments of this film warn us that what we are about to witness is much darker than we may assume, a thought that remains in the back of our minds even as the film transitions to a seemingly average looking bar, a clue that there is something yet to be discovered. There are so many elements that come together to create the underlying fear that’s felt while watching the mystery of The Oak Room unfold, such as the incredible sound design and cinematography that build up this sense of apprehension. 

At the very forefront are the striking performances from the leads, who carry The Oak Room to its stunning climax by simply maintaining the viewer’s attention through their ability to hold compelling conversation with one another. The exchanges between not only Mitte and Outerbridge, but also from Ari Millen and Martin Roach, truly elevate this film. 

This is a film about knowing how to tell a good story, and The Oak Room certainly succeeds in this regard. Its incredibly slow pace may feel frustrating, but the way everything comes together at the end makes the focus on exposition completely worth it.



CAST: RJ Mitte, Peter Outerbridge, Ari Millen, Martin Roach

DIRECTOR: Cody Calahan

WRITER: Peter Genoway

SYNOPSIS: A drifter returns home to the blue-collar bar located in the remote Canadian town where he was born.