I went in not knowing much about Room 104. I knew that Mark and Jay Duplass (Creep) were writing and producing the anthology series for HBO. I also knew that James Van Der Beek would appear in an episode and that this was a horror/thriller series.
I decided to watch the first episode of the series, entitled Ralphie. The basic premise is that a sitter named Meg (Melonie Diaz) arrives at Room 104 to babysit Ralph (Ethan Kent) while his father (Ross Partridge) leaves for a probable date. Meg is told that Ralph is a quiet kid with a big imagination and that he is in the bathroom. Ralph’s father calls to Ralph a couple of times, with no response, before rushing out the door without even checking the references of the sitter.
What follows is a well-worn trope of innocence vs. innocence as you watch the calm Meg valiantly attempt to figure out the soft-spoken Ralph and his insistence that a dangerous Ralphie is lurking in the bathroom. The viewer watches the interactions of the two, wondering which one will turn out to be the twist. Or if the father, illustrated in his actions and his son’s words as a sort of cad, will burst in with an axe.
I must say that director Sarah Adina Smith did a fantastic job with the small space of a motel room. The bathroom allegedly housing Ralphie is never fully explored. The room is made to feel claustrophobic in some sequences, cozy in others, and somewhat alien through most of the episode.
I’m not sure how I felt about Ralphie, but I know that I’m interested to see more of Room 104.