Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the horror movie HOTEL OF THE DAMNED by director Bobby Barbacioru. To best describe the story, I will turn to a slightly edited IMDB plot summary:
“After a car accident that strands them in the middle of nowhere, an ex-con, his daughter, his friend, and his daughter’s boyfriend take shelter in an abandoned hotel populated by sub-human cannibalistic creatures.”
Sometimes a horror feature comes along that is exactly what it seems; this is one of those types of films. It does not confound with crazy plot twists, does not break the promise made by the plot description, and does not make us feel cheated of what it could have been by messing up the finale. While this may seem like a backhanded praise, it is actually a good thing as movies like this help to bridge the gap for the many that try to be something they are not and fail.
What this movie does end up being is a tensely violent ride through a forgotten corner of the Carpathian Mountains, where creatures still lurk in the darkened hallways. The surprising part is that even with all the high octane thrills and kinetic sequences, they still manage to cram a bit of heart into this piece. The emotional aspects were so deftly woven into the fabric of the terror that one aspect never overpowered or took away from the other.
The sentimentality comes in the form of an ex-con father attempting to reconnect with his grown daughter before and during their horrific evening. Watching them move from hating one another to a certain mutual respect as the events unfold added a layer of tension to the proceedings that I felt to be incredibly effective. It helps that as things move along it comes to light that their relationship is broken because they are broken people.
There is chemistry between the actors that sells the various relationships running through this picture. Of particular note are the father/daughter relationship and the companionship between the ex-con and his best friend which the actors do a great job of selling. With a less capable cast these moments could have fallen incredibly flat, but here it is easy to believe that these people got along in real life, so these interactions come across as being genuine.
Shifting gears a bit, I do feel it necessary to talk about the sound design for a minute. When the horror aspects began to kick in the sounds become one of the scariest parts of this feature. Whether it be something small like the sound of footsteps echoing through the hallways or the much more obvious maniacal laugh (which is possibly the most nerve racking part of this entire film), the sounds really brought the horror to the forefront. As our leads began to try to fight back against the cannibals, each punch, hit, or slice was given extra impact by a room shaking bass full of dread.
All in all, while there is nothing truly revolutionary presented, this ends up being an entertaining diversion that pays off on the promise of the concept. Thanks to some great chemistry and top notch sound design, this movie keeps the sense of dread high. Fans of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) or THE DESCENT (2005) will find some fun similarities present.
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