Room for Rent, opening May 3 in select theaters and On Demand May 7, stars genre vet Lin Shaye as a lonely widow who rents out a room in her house and becomes dangerously obsessed with one of her guests. We spoke to the films director Tommy Stovall about whether a real life housemate from hell might’ve inspired his screenplay..
Why Room to Rent, Tommy?
I really liked the script and especially the character of Joyce. And I thought it was timely considering the rising popularity of B&Bs.
Have you had friends who have been victims of evil landlords?
Any horrible rental experiences yourself?
Nothing too bad. Just disappointments when finding out a place isn’t exactly what was advertised.
What’s the worst place you’ve ever rented?
I had a weird experience once with a vacation rental. A group I was with rented a house from a guy and unbeknownst to us, he still lived there. He just simply left during our stay with most of his belongings still there. He didn’t even bother to empty his washing machine or dish washer of dirty dishes.
Lin Shaye’s character is simply lonely though, right? or is there more going on there?
There’s much more going on under the surface. She has a background of being repressed by a controlling husband and once he dies, she’s free to try rectifying all of her past regrets. We see her come out of her shell and transform, though in an awkward and brutal way.
How hard is it to ground a movie that’s also trying to scare an audience?
I think it’s challenging, but our goal with this film first and foremost was to tell a compelling story with an interesting and complex character at the center of it. I think that’s always key.
Has the film played festivals? Do you recommend that route to other indie filmmakers who are looking for distribution?
Only one, at the Sedona International Film Festival, the same town we shot the movie in. We already had distribution at that point. Sometimes festivals can help with distribution, especially if you play in a top tier one or get a lot of buzz. But they aren’t absolutely necessary. We were lucky enough to get distribution for Room for Rent without having gone that route.
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