Aiming somewhere between The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hotel Of The Damned succeeds only in making you wish you were watching one of those films instead. The set up itself is deeply contrived. The filmmakers clearly decided that a hotel was the perfect location for their horror movie, and having found the ideal spot, all they had to do was engineer a situation that would bring our hapless road trippers to it. Cue some spectacular parking as the car spins, tumbles down a hill and lands just outside the main entrance.
Once in the hotel, and their predicament becomes clear, the four run up and down a lot, from the upper floors to the basement without ever heading straight for the front door. As such, instead of a claustrophobic hide-and-seek thriller we are left with a tedious chase movie that for much of its runtime seems set on a continuous loop.
The problem is that there is a gory history of horror films set in abandoned buildings of one form or another. From superior found footage terror REC to The Shining, an enclosed environment has often been as much a character as a location. But this only works if an exit route is unclear or unavailable. With Hotel Of The Damned, you sense Nicky and co. could check out (apologies) any time they like; they just choose not to. Even when Jimmy selflessly sacrifices himself so others can escape, upon reaching the main door they decide to go back and save him. Brave and loyal perhaps, but it kind of stomps all over Jimmy’s one big moment.
There are, however, glimpses of the film this could have been scattered throughout. The bad guys are reasonably well designed, although their leader does stride around dressed more like blood spattered Neo from The Matrix rather than the head of a cannibal clan. The hotel itself is interesting, although is never shown at its best through several rather dull locations being visited repeatedly. Glimpses then, but sadly, Hotel Of The Damned gives the impression of being a decent idea not fully thought through, and having gone into production without being fully prepared.
Perhaps the slated sequel will work better. Perhaps.
HOTEL OF THE DAMNED / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: BOBBY BARBACIORU / SCREENPLAY: LUCA BERCOVICI, PAUL PETCU / STARRING: LOUIS MANDYLOR, PETER DOBSON, MANUELA HARABOR, FLORIN KEVORKIAN / RELEASE DATE: TBC