Room for Rent proves Lin Shaye should be considered a horror icon


Room for Rent is a character-focused thriller that allows Lin Shaye to demonstrate her profound ability to dominate the screen every second she appears.

In my opinion, the only reason Lin Shaye doesn’t come up in the same conversation as Jamie Lee Curtis, Neve Campbell, Marilyn Burns or Janet Leigh is simply due to her age. In reality, Lin Shaye has starred in more than 80 films and proven herself time and time again as an incredible actress. Room for Rent is just the latest venture to demonstrate her skill.

From the Insidious franchise to Grudge remake, Shaye is dominating the horror field. It’s a shame she doesn’t get more recognition because as an actress well into her 70’s, she’s doing something remarkable. She’s actually managing to secure leading roles that don’t solely depend on her being someone’s mother or a crone. In the horror world, she’s sort of like Meryl Streep or Margo Martindale.

Unfortunately, Hollywood is reluctant to cast women in interesting or provocative roles once they hit a certain age. Lin Shaye is the exception and she’s a trailblazer because of it, one who has earned the respect of being considered a horror great.

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Shaye’s latest project is Room for Rent, a slow-burning thriller where she plays an offbeat, socially stunted widow named Joyce. After her husband’s passing, Joyce is virtually bankrupt. To make ends meet, she turns her house into a cozy bed and breakfast.

Joyce makes a strong connection with one of her first guests, Sarah, to whom she feels a maternal connection. Post-Sarah’s departure, she finds a handsome younger man to stay in the spare room and becomes obsessed with the idea of beginning a romantic relationship with him.

Even during Joyce’s more heinous acts, it’s hard to not feel some pity for her. She’s an intensely lonely woman who is striving to find connection. Her hours are often spent in the library reading romance novels which inform her fantasies.

Room for Rent – Pictured (L-R): Oliver Rayon, Lin Shaye and Valeska Miller – Photo Courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment

Shaye portrays Joyce with such an awkward innocence. Many scenes will make you cringe because of Joyce’s inability to understand customary social cues. This is a woman who doesn’t interact with the outside world too often and you’ll learn more about what happened in her history to make her like this.

Of course, Joyce has a hideous dark side as well. Her desire to be loved influences her shocking ease to lie. She is pathological in her dishonesty and will spin whatever yarn needs to be spun in order to gain the reaction she craves.

Room for Rent is not a big-budget film. It’s a quiet movie released on demand. It speaks to the ever-changing nature of the industry and its unwillingness to take risks on the less flashy movies. If it’s not a blockbuster, odds are it won’t make it to a nationwide release.

It’s unfortunate because Room for Rent is a pretty impressive film. Although I admit much of what makes it compelling comes from Shaye’s phenomenal performance. The plot beats are predictable but it doesn’t make them any less entertaining.

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I really hope fans of the genre watch this movie and then maybe take a trip down Lin Shaye’s filmography in the hopes she gets a little more appreciation in the future. Maybe Hollywood will give her a big-budget horror movie worthy of her time (since Insidious: The Last Key was really not).

Room for Rent is now playing in select theaters and will be available on digital starting May 7th.

What is your favorite Lin Shaye role? Let us know in the comments.