Toronto: Eric Khoo’s ‘In the Room’ Draws From Personal Experience

Singapore’s best-known auteur returns to the festival circuit with erotic drama “In the Room,” premiering in  Toronto.

The film is a peep through the keyhole of a once-grand hotel that has fallen on hard times, and is constructed as eight scenes, each telling the stories of the sexual escapades  over seven decades in in the same room.

As well as being a concept that was firmed up while Eric Khoo was jury president at the Bucheon fantasy fest when he stayed in a seedy hotel, the director says the film plays tribute to Damien Sin, a larger-than-life Singaporean artist who died in 2006. Khoo got to know him through shared interests in comic books, horror stories and rock music. Sin features in the film as a recurring character.

“Damien wrote the screenplay for ‘Mee Pok Man,’ my first feature movie. And without him, who knows where I would be today,” Khoo says.

“Room” went to the soundstages of Mike Wiluan’s Infinite Frameworks where production designer Arthur Chua built two identical hotel rooms. That   structure enabled Khoo to shoot an episode in one suite, while Chua readied the other room for shooting of the next segment. That system, and a lot of planning, enabled the film to be lensed in just 10 days and the budget to be kept under $1 million.

Khoo says he and producer Nansun Shi are both fans of upmarket 1970s sex movies like “Emmanuelle” although he admits they seem tame in today’s Internet age.

It is unclear whether Singapore’s Censor Board has also moved with the times.

The Singapore festival showing seems safe enough. Operating with a special license, the SGIFF may be able to show a version different that is the same as the one shown to international festival audiences, while unspooling a different one in Singapore’s commercial theaters.

“We are the only country in the world where you need to be 21 to see some movies,” Khoo bemoans.

But he adds:  “I really want this to be seen in Singapore and would love it to get an R21 with no cuts. If it cannot, I will have to think again.”

More Film

  • Tarantino Movies Ranked Illustration

    All of Quentin Tarantino's Movies Ranked

    In the history of cinema, has any director done more to elevate the idea of movies as cool than Quentin Tarantino? Certainly, the idea that films could be made by fans dates back at least to the French New Wave, when a group of die-hard critics stepped behind the camera. A few years later, Spielberg, [...]

  • A Stranger on the Beach

    Anonymous Content Wins Film Rights to Michele Campbell's 'A Stranger on the Beach' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Anonymous Content has won the adaptive rights to the forthcoming Michele Campbell novel “A Stranger on the Beach.” In a competitive situation, Anonymous outbid multiple players for the thriller, which it will adapt for the big screen with in-house producers Alex Goldstone and Rosalie Swedlin. “Stranger” has been likened to sensual thrillers like “Fatal Attraction” [...]

  • Ridley Scott Matt Damon Ben Affleck

    Ridley Scott, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener Team on 'The Last Duel'

    Ridley Scott looks to have his next directing job, as he has signed on to direct “The Last Duel” with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck attached to star. Damon and Affleck co-wrote the script with Oscar-nominated Nicole Holofcener. Scott, Damon and Affleck all producing along with Scott’s producing partner Kevin Walsh. Drew Vinton is also [...]

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas Ed Asner Elliott

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ed Asner, Elliott Gould Seek SAG-AFTRA Board Seats

    Ed Asner, Elliott Gould and Jonathan Taylor Thomas are seeking SAG-AFTRA national board seats as members of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Asner is the former president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving two terms from 1981 to 1985, and winning five Emmys for his role as Lou Grant and two others [...]

  • Natalie Portman Thor Comic Con

    Comic-Con: Marvel 'Shock and Awe' Strategy Dominates Twitter Buzz

    Disney’s Marvel Studios handily won the hype trophy from this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego. Marvel Studios — which returned to the 2019 Comic-Con stage with a chock-full Phase 4 slate of announcements — dominated the discussion on Twitter out of the convention, capturing the biggest volume of buzz for nine of the top 10 [...]

  • Chris Rock - Netflix

    Chris Rock's 'Saw' Reboot Moves Up Five Months to May 2020

    Lionsgate has moved Chris Rock’s upcoming “Saw” reboot forward by five months to May 15, 2020, vacating the pre-Halloween date of Oct. 23, 2020. The studio indicated Monday that it decided to move the untitled “Saw” movie into the summer slot after seeing early footage from the set of the film currently shooting in Toronto. The move [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content