Directed by: #MatthewKeats
Written by: Matthew Keats & #VanPoyton
Directed by Matthew Keats, Make Room in Hell depicts the story of Gordon (Forder), a postman who due to his profession meets “housemaid” Abby. After becoming romantically involved with Abby, he becomes aware of some rare and valuable coins in the house she tends to. Seeing no other way to have a relationship with his son, he assembles other people’s help to steal the coin collection. Gordon, doing his best Walter Neff impression from Double Indemnity narrates the events that take place throughout, in the form of an oral confession to his son.
Technically, it’s rather impressive. There’s a real Lynchian quality to Van Poyton’s #cinematography; the cast impresses throughout (in difficult roles); Gabriel Kellet’s score is at times powerful (although at other times, tonally inconsistent), and the script is authentic and on occasion darkly funny. As a purely technical piece, it’s constructed by a confident director who regularly showcases an eye for good and daring #filmmaking.
I think the problem with the film lies within the storytelling.
Make Room in Hell is heavily influenced by the realism and asperity of Shane Meadows’ work and looks to replicate such qualities. However, what makes Meadows’ work so powerful is his ability to put heart, empathy, and emotional-depth into his storytelling despite simultaneously depicting loathsome characters. Unfortunately, watching it is a hard watch as it feels like an entirely bitter film; it’s a film desperate to show you the absolute worst of humanity from the start, and somehow make them more wretched throughout.
I do believe this bitterness and the vulgarity of its characters was deliberate, though. And I’m sure Keats believed such abrasiveness was necessary to really authenticate his message: a message about how corrupted we are by money and the lengths we’ll go too to attain wealth. But the audience watching this will expect there to come a moment when Gordon will realise the errors of his ways, have a cathartic experience and appreciate the detriment of his actions. Thus setting up a teachable lesson to his son. He doesn’t. Instead, it’s quite the opposite; he believes his actions were necessary and justified. Right up until the final line of dialogue, the character remains reprehensible, even going as far as telling his son to “get rich” despite everything that had happened. What starts off feeling like a potentially candid commentary on society’s desperation for wealth, ends up feeling like an endorsement of it.
There’s enough here to remind you that you're watching a film constructed by talented people. Technically, it’s impressive and has all the qualities of good independent films: creativity, boldness and resourcefulness. However, I think the narrative arc will alienate the audience rendering the aesthetically pleasing aspects of the film unfortunately impertinent.