Assumed to be yet another COVID-inspired, single setting movie, The Immaculate Room is actually not one’s typical pandemic fare. This psychological drama/light thriller takes an ultra-simple premise and seasons it with rich characters. By tossing a heterosexual couple alone in a room together for 50 days, we are forced to question our own interpersonal relationships. If they last the full time, they win a cool five million dollars, which can obviously be split. What could possibly go wrong? The answer turns out to be quite a lot, as an unseen professor pits them against one another. Writer/director Mukunda Michael Dewil makes us overly invested in the couple’s personal history, finding the cracks in their relationship instead of focusing on gimmicky moments of horrific catharsis.
The film wastes no time in getting straight to the point. Catherine (Kate Bosworth, 21, The Rules of Attraction) and her longtime boyfriend, Michael (Emile Hirsch, Alpha Dog, The Autopsy of Jane Doe), enter an all-white, blank slate of a room, and push a big red button. Their time in “The Immaculate Room” has officially commenced. The rules are simple. Make it 50 days together, and they walk away with the big money. If one of them leaves, the prize drops down to just one million. Michael wants to spend his money frivolously, while Catherine wants to invest her portion. A generic bed, a sterile bathroom, laundry chute, and bland, pre-made foods are pretty much all that lies inside. They are permitted to indulge in two “treats” each throughout the duration of their stay, but it will cost them a small chunk—$100,000 for the first treat, and $500,000 for the next.
The monotony of doing the same thing day in and day out is relatable, especially given the context of us just coming out from 2020’s pandemic of being cooped up inside. The Immaculate Room was one of the first films to shoot under Los Angeles’s COVID protocols, and the script’s themes about being forced to confront one’s inner demons more relevant than ever. Without TV, books, or anything else to keep their minds busy, what are Michael and Catherine to do? Indulging in the treats could serve to be a trap of its own. Unspoken incidents from their pasts creep up as the clock ticks on and on. A daily 7:00 AM wake up call is enough to make anyone snap.
Where The Immaculate Room fails on even a basic level is in the conclusion. A heavy amount of setup introduces a variety of exciting elements, such as the mysterious Professor Voyen whose psychological experiment has brought them here, and who “has more money than God,” not to mention an all-seeing, all-knowing voice that chimes in whenever necessary. I wanted to have more catharsis and meaning behind the affair beyond “money can’t buy us everything.” An important notion for sure, but the ending is too abrupt to be satisfying. Nevertheless, the acting performances from Kate Bosworth and especially Emile Hirsch are captivating to watch. As their mental and emotional states are broken down, Catherine, who starts off calm, collected, and meditative, devolves into a screaming, crying mess; Michael tries to keep his mind occupied with zany accents and playful humor. They may as well have entered couples therapy!
Come enjoy your stay in The Immaculate Room when the film premieres in theaters and on demand Friday, August 19th.