Chicago Comedy Film Festival: Room for Rent

Brett Gelman as Carl Lemay and Mark Little as Mitch Baldwin in Room for Rent.

Selected for the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, Room for Rent is a film that should be seen as a lesson for lottery winners when it comes to dealing with finances.

Matt Atkinson makes his feature debut as the writer/director of Room for Rent, a film that could very well be an AirBNB or Craigslist horror story brought to life.  Atkinson directs from a script that pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock.  It’s not a horror film per se but with the way that Carl Lemay (Brett Gelman) interacts with Mitch Baldwin (Mark Little), the threats take the film to the next level.  Much of this can be credited to their acting ability to make scenes that should be scary as hell and, well, lighten things up with the way that humor plays into their character interactions.  The camera framing when the two are talking especially play into this.

Mitch won the Mega Max Lotto as a high school senior but in the course of twelve years, he managed to blow all $3.5 million of his winnings.  As a result, Mitch finds himself living with his parents while his life is seen as a complete and utter joke.  For Mitch to move back after winning all that money is a hard blow to suffer.  He’s a failure for having lost it all.  It hurts Mitch even more when his dad, Warren (Mark McKinney) decides to retire early and both he and Mitch’s mom, Betty (Stephnie Weir), discuss selling the house.  Needing some extra income because he’s not ready to move out, Mitch comes up with a genius idea to rent a room out.

Mitch probably didn’t think the whole thing through.  If he did, he should have at least bother to vet businessman Carl Lemay, a man who is ten years older and ends up winning the lottery for the room.  Carl has his own motive for doing so and it unfolds throughout the film–just as quickly as he refuses to follow any of the rules that Mitch sets forth.  Hell, he’s straight out of a Hitchcock film–quite a few, actually.  If Mitch were to look into the mirror, he could see Carl–only Carl is more sick and twisted than anything else.

It’s soon an all-out war between Mitch and Carl, never more so after Mitch makes some interesting discoveries about Carl.  Did Carl steal a car?  At one point while Mitch is sleeping, Carl comes into the room and tells him, “I will grind you down into a tiny little knob of a person.”  Credit cinematographer Robert Scarborough for the lighting decisions in this scene as it really plays into Carl’s villainous role.

Undeclared‘s Carla Gallo co-stars as Lindsay Ross, a friend of Mitch.  Suit’s Patrick J. Adams plays Huey, an officer that investigates Carl with some surprising results.

Room for Rent made its world premiere in September at the Atlantic International Film Festival in Halifax. The comedy will hold its Illinois and Midwest premiere at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival on November 10, 2017, at The New 400 Theater.  For ticket information, please click here.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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