Review by Adam Donato
Video game movies have had a troubled history in Hollywood. Recently, there has been sustained success in the form of franchises such as Sonic the Hedgehog. Most audiences might not recognize this from the poster, but Root Letter is an adaptation of a Kadokawa Game. The story follows a couple of teens who are assigned a random student from another school to write letters back and forth with. Carlos comes from a rough upbringing and after a year of not talking to his pen pal, she sends him a message for help and he is tasked with putting together the pieces to discover her whereabouts. Not often are video game movies specific to the drama genre, but this mystery story is. Does this video game have the narrative necessary to carry out a feature-length film?
This is certainly the most unorthodox video game movie of all time. Most audiences who stumble upon this movie will probably not even know that this is based on a video game. That being said, the story lends itself decently well to the feature format. While the time-jumping doesn’t work to the best of the story's ability, it’s interesting to have a movie like this where we’re solving the mystery along with the characters. Since this was meant to be a hands-on experience, Root Letter does accomplish its goal of putting the audience in the driver's seat, but without access to the wheel.
The title likens this story to Euphoria because it deals with a lot of the same subject matter. It’s about a collection of teens who struggle with interpersonal drama and substance abuse. The home lives of these characters are more often than not a toxic environment and it's pretty sad watching these teens attempt to overcome these setbacks. The performances are all very solid. At all times it feels as if we are watching real life teens go through these situations. In the end, the mystery is tied up in a satisfying way making for a decent experience.
The video game genre continues to live on and it’s good to see it expanding to new horizons. This teen genre works on its own and is sure to be satisfying to fans of the source material, while also not being exclusive to people who played the game. Hopefully people check this movie out on demand and bring some new players to the game.
Root Letter is now available on VOD.