Movie Review: Hotel of the Damned is Vacant of Scares or Originality

January 11, 2017

Written by Capt McNeely

Georgia Division ZADF Twitter: @ZADF_ORG

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It’s said that one should never judge a book by it’s cover. One should also not make assumptions based on a tile, such as assuming the type of horror movie one is about to see. That being said, let’s begin, my Little Monsters.

Nicky is an ex-con, a brand new one at that since he has just this day been released from prison. After being reunited with his good friend Jimmy, Nicky has one more reunion in n mind –  one with his estranged daughter Eliza. Nicky and Jimmy track Eliza down, only to find (much to his dismay) she is living with her druggy boyfriend, Bogdan. This just won’t do, so Nicky removes Eliza from this “situation”.

While on the road back to town, someone runs out into the road causing them to swerve and wreck their car. They are in the middle of nowhere, with no working mode of transport and no signs of anyone to provide help in any way shape or form.It’s dark and they are injured and the only place to seek shelter is an abandoned derelict hotel.

They find a place to settle in and get as comfortable as they possibly can given the circumstances, but before long Nicky and Jimmy decide to do a bit of exploring. They witness a young woman being butchered. Obviously in this hotel outsiders are not so much guests, they are the main course on the room service menu.

The only thing on the menu for these unfortunate souls is their own soft flesh, if they can’t find a way to survive the onslaught from the bloodthirsty cannibals who inhabit the hotel.

Bobby Barbacioru directed this film based on a script written by Luca Bercovici and Paul Petcu. Frankly it’s a story we’ve seen before in movies like The Texas Chainsaw MassacreWrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes, just to name a few. A group of people stranded and trying to survive torment and possible death from murderous cannibals, only this time it happens in a decrepit hotel.

The whole point is to make the audience care about the well being of the main characters, and frankly this movie falls well short of doing that. The characters and the story are not well written and there is nothing to make me care about their plight. I didn’t like them OR hate them…I was just indifferent about their fate. I was especially puzzled about the notion of taking two obviously east coast style grifters, and placing them in an eastern European setting…but maybe that’s just me. Frankly there wasn’t anything terrifying or even mildly scary about the movie, it was just humdrum and monotonous.

The director settled for lackluster and often very over exaggerated performances. There is no subtlety or emotional appeal from our leads, Louis Mandylor and Peter Dobson. I’ve seen these two guys act before and they’ve done a respectable job in other roles, but they were cast as an east coast stereotype here and it added nothing to the movie. Aside from these two, there are no recognizable names on the cast, and given their performances, it might stay that way.

The group of cannibals are very one dimensional, except for one spastic, whooping and cackling cannibal, whose demeanor seemed to have been copied from Julian Richings’ character “Three Finger” in Wrong Turn. Most of the cannibals are dressed in rags and caked in filth and blood, while sporting unfortunate haircuts you could expect if your barber was a five year old. Then there is the “alpha male” of the group, who is a bit of a cliche with a bald head, facial scarring, and sporting a long dark coat in an attempt to make him look intimidating. He is clearly less filthy than the rest so you can identify him as the leader.

The action in the film seems chaotic and clumsy, and the choreography of action sequences is  sub-par. The cinematography was unremarkable and when combined with sloppy editing, it made the movie a chore to watch. It becomes more so when they try to throw in scenes of backstory, thus breaking up the linear structure of the story. When done right, non-linearity can be amazing and artistic, but here it’s just an awkward distraction.

I did find the location that was used to be a very interesting setting, and it could work very well for a horror  movie. But sometimes just having a great location isn’t enough, there has to be a well written and compelling story to accompany it.

You know it’s not a good sign when the most interesting part of the entire viewing experience are the opening and ending credit sequences. And I’m willing to admit that the title, Hotel of the Damned, gave me the impression that there was going to be a supernatural or demonic element to this film, but that turned out to be far from what was delivered. What I got was a mediocre movie about crazy murderous cannibals who have taken roost in an abandoned hotel.  The tagline for the film (at least it was the one on IMDb) is “No matter how bad things are… they can always get worse“, which could ring true if they in fact make the sequel to this movie that is supposedly in development currently. Four star hotels are still seen as very respectable establishments, but my 4/10 should convey just how bad this particular hotel is.

 

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