Tangent Room puts a new spin on a fun premise. The movie is about four strangers trapped in a room. They must work together to escape. If they do not succeed, they die. It is a simple formula that at worst provides some good escapism. Tangent Room decides a more scientific approach will make the film more interesting. Unfortunately, they are wrong.
Visually, Tangent Room can be impressive. The opening screams film school and yet manages to convey a certain charm. The movie begins with narration and occasionally certain words will fill the screen. It is an eye catching, though it does immediately make one wonder if maybe this will be too trippy for its own good.
There are also some neat special effects. Tangent Room has its protagonists dealing with time anomalies. This leads to some nice effects that are enhanced with great sound. The subtly in some of these moments are well done. For a while it seems as if the movie is inclined to play with the viewer and make them question what they are seeing.
Regrettably, this turns out to be false hope. After initially using them coyly, Tangent Room decides to go all in and overuses the special effect. In and of itself, it never looks bad. The problem is it’s simply becomes tired. It becomes clear in the last 10 minutes the movie is using the effect to carry its thin plot.
The story itself is riddled with inconsistencies. For example, it is established early on the group has four hours to escape the room or they will die. Yet many shots outside of the building show what looks like a full day has passed. This may be done to further the movie’s theme, but it is done very poorly.
The acting is fine with one notable exception. Jennifer Lila is awful in her role as the doubting Carol. In many movies, it is easy to blame silly dialogue or poor writing. As the saying goes, “No matter how much make up you put on a pig, it is still dinner.” And make no mistake about it; Tangent Room is filled with horrible dialogue (I get the movie is dealing with theories and the fantastic, but referring to a time anomaly as a “micro flip”?). It is more than the writing in the case of Lila. She only works at one speed: ridiculously overdramatic. She is either comically sassy or way too confused. Too bad she is never good.
The script does not do its cast any favors. If Tangent Room decided to stick with a simple formula of random people trying to escape a room before they die, it would have been passable. Even throwing in a few of its wacky time elements would have been fine. It may have even made for a good movie, since it would have been somewhat unique.
Instead, the film has no focus. (Almost, literally. There are random close ups of eyes and numbers.) It starts with people trying to solve a puzzle in order to live. By the end, the movie is dealing with alternate dimensions and the possibility of another Big Bang. There are also pointless shots of the desert and unexplained flashbacks. Supposedly, this all means something, but I cannot figure it out.
And what do all the special effects and wannabe art house shots lead to? An anticlimactic ending. The film simply fades to black. Just when you think that was a bad ending, there is narration. It cannot possibly get worse you figure, but then Tangent Room continues to a happy ending that goes against everything we have seen for the last hour. (Yes, the movie tries to tell a universe collapsing, time altering, worlds colliding narrative in the space of one hour.)
It is rare to come across a movie like Tangent Room. There is always something that redeems a movie to some extent. Especially movies with as generic of a premise as this one. Somehow, Tangent Room defies the odds and makes it nearly impossible to remember if in fact there is anything good about it.