The Forbidden Room (2015 film)

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The Forbidden Room
The Forbidden Room poster.jpg
Directed by
Produced byDavid Christensen
Written by
Music by
Edited byJohn Gurdebeke
Distributed by
Release date
  • 26 January 2015 (2015-01-26) (Sundance)
  • 9 October 2015 (2015-10-09) (Canada)
Running time
119 minutes[1]
Box office$34,404[2]

The Forbidden Room is a 2015 Canadian fantasy drama film[1] co-directed by Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson, and written by Maddin, Johnson, and Robert Kotyk. The film stars Roy Dupuis, Clara Furey, Louis Negin, Jacques Nolot, Charlotte Rampling, Udo Kier, Gregory Hlady, Sparks,[3] Karine Vanasse, Mathieu Amalric, Maria de Medeiros and Geraldine Chaplin.


The film's frame story, and the narrative it returns to the most, concerns a submarine crew transporting a volatile substance that will explode if they ever resurface. As the crew struggle to survive with low oxygen levels, a woodsman (Roy Dupuis) mysteriously forces his way onto the vessel; the crew believe his sudden appearance may lead to an escape from their predicament. The men navigate a labyrinth of rooms and passageways while trying to access the captain's chamber. Along the way, they recount stories that lead to other stories, which unfold in a complex and layered manner. The most important of these "sub-stories" shows the woodsman and his fellow "sapling-jacks" trying to rescue a woman named Margot from depraved kidnappers. Other sub-stories involve: a surgeon kidnapped by a team of "women skeletons" who work as insurance defrauders; a madman on a train under the charge of a womanizing psychiatrist; a mustache that seeks to comfort the widow of the man whose face it used to adorn; and a doctor cursed by a bust of Janus. The submarine crew finally reach the captain's "forbidden room", only to find him incapacitated. Most of the men die of asphyxiation, but the woodsman finds that the volatile cargo has transformed into his love, Margot. A passionate kiss leads into a montage of proposed endings from "The Book of Climaxes", and an abrupt, inconclusive ending to the film itself.




Many of the stories within the film's nesting doll structure were inspired by a lost film and then reimagined in an absurdist way, sometimes based only on the title. When asked how the idea for the structure came about, Johnson said he is a fan of Raymond Roussel.[5]

Filming and editing[edit]

The film was shot on digital[5] in public studios (where the public could visit and attend the film shoots) at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France and the Centre PHI in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

There was so much material that did not make the final cut that the directors decided to turn it into a web series, called Seances, which Maddin calls a "companion piece" to the film. The final cut of the film is slightly shorter than it was on its world premiere at the Sundance Festival; the directors had to do some re-editing anyway, because the soundtracks on the DCP "were out of synch with each other." Maddin said: "It was a nightmare. I felt the movie didn't get its premiere there. We went back and tightened it up because it was too long even for me, and now it's the right length."[5]


The Forbidden Room premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on 26 January 2015.[6][7][8][9] It also screened at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on 16 September 2015.

The film was theatrically released in the United States on 7 October 2015 and in Canada two days later on 9 October and was released in the United Kingdom on 11 December 2015.

Critical reception[edit]

The film received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 96% rating based on 67 reviews, with an average rating of 8.16/10. The site's consensus states: "The Forbidden Room may frustrate viewers looking for a linear experience, but those seeking a challenge – or already familiar with director Guy Maddin's work – will be rewarded."[10] Metacritic reports an 81 out of 100 rating, based on 14 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[11]

In December, the film was announced as part of TIFF's annual Canada's Top Ten screening series of the ten best Canadian films of the year.[12]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "THE FORBIDDEN ROOM (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 6 November 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "The Forbidden Room (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 14 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "The Forbidden Room | New York Film Festival". Film Society Lincoln Center. Retrieved 26 November 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "The Forbidden Room (2015) official site". Phi Films. Retrieved 13 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b c Prigge, Matt (interviewer) (9 October 2015). "Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson on 'The Forbidden Room' and that Sparks song". Metro USA. Retrieved 14 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Sundance Institute Announces Spotlight, Park City and Midnight, New Frontier for 2015 Sundance Film Festival". Sundance Institute. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Sundance 2015 Review: THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, Weird And Wonderful". Twitch Film. 5 February 2015.
  8. ^ "'The Forbidden Room': Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 29 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Sundance 2015 review: The Forbidden Room – Guy Maddin imagines a volcano's dream and the memories of a moustache". 27 January 2015.
  10. ^ "The Forbidden Room (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 15 February 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "The Forbidden Room Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 6 November 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "TIFF reveals Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival line-up". The Globe and Mail, December 8, 2015.
  13. ^ "'The Forbidden Room' earns $100,000 Toronto film critics prize". CTV News. Canadian Press. 6 January 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]