Anthology series set in room 104 of a seemingly average American motel, telling each time a different story of the assorted guests who pass through, which can range from funny and fantastica... Read allAnthology series set in room 104 of a seemingly average American motel, telling each time a different story of the assorted guests who pass through, which can range from funny and fantastical to dramatic and horrifying.Anthology series set in room 104 of a seemingly average American motel, telling each time a different story of the assorted guests who pass through, which can range from funny and fantastical to dramatic and horrifying.
The common elements consist often of fantastical surrealism or extreme psychological violence and a violation of boundaries, whether they be physical or emotional, or many times both such as in the act of sex. Because of this combination of surreal and many times bizarrely violent and apathetic "Room 104" remains compelling even as it disgusts, but maintains self-awareness enough of its own psychosis with characters often vocalizing "I think there's something wrong with me" so that you want to see if some redeeming moment can occur.
From what I have watched, "Room 104" doesn't hit its stride at a particular and remains inconsistent, with a sporadic episode between the seasons being especially redeeming or conversely, especially chilling in its 2017 nihilism (in season 2 episode 4 "Hungry" two men cut off each other's genitals and eat them, arguing with police officers about their "right" to do this since it's "consensual" and not technically "illegal").
"Room 104" is very aware about being in the social media and internet age, often exploring themes involving Instagram, online dating, figuratively and literally talking to the wall (season 2 ep 5 "Woman in the Wall"). Its characters are like those you find on the internet: the needy, the angry, the hypervigilant gender studies feminist (season 2 ep 12 "Josie and Me," mentioning incel-speak "beta"), the confused about identity. Many of the characters speak like the internet too--affected, too conscious of the hip (season 2 ep 3 "Swipe Right", possibly involving Tinder).
In many ways "Room 104" reflects a fickle and disturbed social media climate in a funhouse mirror style. The series is often surprising and sometimes engaging because of how original its fantastical surreal devices are (s2 ep5 "Woman in the Wall" being one). Sometimes all the extreme violence does work to show how corrupted certain issues like what is "consensual" have become (s2 ep4 "Hungry" and s2 ep12 "Josie and Me). Perhaps the most cathartic episode is season 1 episode 5 "The Internet" which is an anomaly because of how normal it is, but it corresponds with the themes of disconnection and violation while needing for the opposite of both.
However for the most part, while highly original and promising, "Room 104" struggles for meaning and for emotional payoff, where the acts of horror have a point beyond their shock value or their inventiveness. Season 2 episode 2 "Mr. Mulvahill" (starring Rainn Wilson or Dwight Schrute of "The Office") is of the most shocking and inventive, but also effective because of its use of tension and a surprising twist.
Much of "Room 104" sounds better in retrospect than what my experience was, which was interested but generally dismal. I can partly recommend "Room 104" because of wanted to be and should've been, and sometimes for what it was. If you suffer patiently through some episodes you might get some reward, but just moderately so.
I am not sure if I will continue watching, but I believe there might be some creative genius that could still pull off a season 3. I wouldn't buy into any kind of hype though. "Room 104" is by and large indulgent and obnoxious, although sometimes mildly redemptive (season 1 episode 5 "The Internet").
I am not familiar of similar shows with an anthology structure, but if you like this kind of medley of fantasy and psychological horror and also like the theme of the internet age then I recommend tv series "American Gods" based on the books of Neil Gaiman. I do believe that "Americans Gods" offers more salve with the bruises its brutality inflicts, and more ultimate meaning beyond the violence alone.
- May 20, 2019