Taking place almost entirely in one house, the title of Panic Room is used to describe the location where the protaginists Meg and Sarah Altman (Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart respectively) hide out in for most of the film. They are there because three burglers have come into their newly purchased home, looking for millions of dollars hidden away within it.
Problomatically, the money is held within the panic room, the same room that our leads are locked within. The room itself is an impennatrable steel structure, one that we learn is impossible to enter. The burglars try multiple times to breach the fortress, unsucessfully. Of course, there must be some reason for one of the characters to leave the room. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have any tension throughout the course of the film.
Meg does leave, at times, in order to get supplies for her and her daughter. They need a phone, so she leaves to grab a cell phone. Her daughter is a diabetic and is running low on blood-sugar levels, so she needs to leave and get an injection. Leaving the room is risky though, as it gives the robbers a chance to either capture her, or get in the room.
What Panic Room does better than anything else is create the type of tension that a good thriller requires. Despite the fact that the main characters are safe for most of the time, when they aren’t, you worry. You feel for them, and you want them to make it through to the end. It’s incredible how tense the film actually does become once it kicks off.
There is a reson for this tension, and that is because of how strong the lead characters are. Maybe “strong” isn’t the right word when talking about Meg’s daughter, but Meg herself is a great lead for the film to use. She has her flaws, (claustrophobia and possibly alcoholism), but is also smart and quick on her feet. Most of this intelligence is demonstrated in her attempts to outthink the robbers. This happens most often from inside of a locked room, but also during the times she is forced outside of her safety blanket.
The robbers are also interesting characters to look at. Only one of them seems to be in it to keep the money for himself. The others have serious reasons for the heist, ranging from a daughter’s cancer to the family coming down on hard times. One even thinks about giving up in the middle, claiming that the room will never be opened, and that it would be better to give up and leave at that point. One robber doesn’t wish to cause anyone harm, and is the most sympathetic out of the antagonists.
All of the characters are well-acted, and are thankfully written in a way that makes the relatable. Dialogue and interactions between the actors are all realistic, giving you an even greater appreciation for them. There weren’t lines that felt like they wouldn’t come out of a real human being’s mouth. This helps with the immersion factor the film strives for.
Immersion occurs when you feel like you are a part of the film. In Panic Room, you get this feeling. For the most part, you feel like you with Meg and Sarah while they are trapped in the room. When the action goes outside of the room, and the film focusess on the burglars, you feel like you could be one of them. You are a part of the gang, no matter which gang the camera, (or security cameras), is looking at.
I almost feel bad for expecting more from Panic Room though. I was sitting there, even after it was over, hoping there was something more going to happen. There wasn’t a major plot twist or anything surprising that occurs. It tells a straightforward story, and tells it well. Don’t go in expecting a large number of twists though, as you may end up being disappointed.
Panic Room doesn’t featuire diverse locations, many action scenes or groundbreaking special effects. It does, however, have good acting and a great degree of intensity. It’s a thriller, and is very good at being thrilling. The characters are interesting, the dialogue feels real, and the film ends up being an immersive experience. Panic Room is a thriller set mostly in one room of a single house in Manhatten, and does a great job at setting a scene and then telling a single-minded story within that scene.