Hotel of the Damned, 2016.
Directed by Bobby Barbacioru.
Starring Louis Mandylor, Peter Dobson, Bogdan Marhodin, Roxana Luca, Manuela Harabor, Natalia Mateut and Florin Kevorkian.
No use hanging up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign here. After a car accident and stranded in the middle of nowhere, an ex-con and his daughter find themselves in an abandoned hotel, populated by sub-human cannibalistic creatures. Is it check-out time, already!?
What’s scary? These days it’s any time a vote of any kind comes up, but in terms of horror cinema, there’s plenty of reliable set ups one can use. How about locations? Well for one perhaps shoot and set your film in Romania. That’s a good start. Then perhaps have some sort of creepy abandoned building. If you can’t afford a Dracula-esque castle, how about an abandoned hotel or warehouse? Yeah, that’s good.
Hotel of the Damned uses just this set up, and throws in a deranged group of sub-human cannibal creatures. That sure should result in a slice of deep-fried gold. As Nicky (Louis Mandylor), recently released from prison, and his daughter seek refuge, they unwittingly put themselves in a deadly situation and they must battle to survive.
What follows is an onslaught of horrific events, probably none more so than the eye wateringly non-sensical editing (and numbing storytelling). Still, as expected, one by one the victims are despatched until the formulaic finale. In principle if you’re a horror fan and not too demanding of something genre-defying, then formula is not a bad thing, but if you’re not doing anything new, you have to do it right. It’s like being on Masterchef and cooking a Cottage Pie. It’s basic. It’s been done to death. If it doesn’t taste fantastic, it’s a failure. If it takes like donkey ass, then you’ve really got problems.
Hotel of the Damned is pretty damned as horror films go. Louis Mandylor also produced (probably one of those token credits which may have also entailed a heftier paypacket) whilst Peter Dobson also co-stars (and gets an exec producing credit). Despite both being on the production team (at least credited as) neither seems too enthusiastic about being in the film. Mandylor is half-hearted (to put it politely) and Dobson isn’t much better. The rest of the cast give a little more, but they’re waiting for a career break, or probably just happy to be part of a production of this scale (even though it’s a small scale). No one really gives anything approaching a solid performance.
Veteran horror writer/director/actor Luca Bercovici (Ghoulies) co-wrote the script (with Peter Petcu) but it’s lifeless. Whether the non-linear structure was scripted, or an editorial choice I don’t know, but it’s jarring and frustrating more than engaging. Not to mention redundant in (most) places. It’s not just the narrative structure which is jarring. As I said, the editing doesn’t so much seamlessly weave the film together, more slap you in the face at every given opportunity. It doesn’t aid in adding any horror, but it does aid in giving you a migraine. There’s no subtlety here in any of the production or post production elements and the sound and score are also heavy handed. Visually the film is dreary and uninspired. Everything seems a bit half-assed to be honest. The post work seems as if it’s an afterthought. An attempt to inject energy that was evidently lacking in the direction, writing and performances. It seems less a creative choice and more an attempt at salvage. Still, in each aspect there’s a dire lack of creativity.
Overall, horror fans will largely be left unsatisfied. Anyone else should stay clear entirely. What could have been a potentially interesting and claustrophobic premise (albeit without originality) is delivered in the most un-interesting and clumsy way possible.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★