Hotel Inferno (2013)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #253

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Number of Views: One
Release Date: December 16, 2013
Sub-Genre: Extreme Splatter
Country of Origin: Italy
Running Time: 80 minutes
Director: Giulio De Santi
Producer: Giulio De Santi
Screenplay: Giulio De Santi
Special Effects: David Borg Lopez, Sigma4
Visual Effects: Giulio De Santi
Score: Protector101, Razzaw
Studio: Necrostorm
Distributor: Necrostorm
Stars: Rayner Bourton, Jessica Carroll, Michael Howe, Mauro Migliorini, Bonini Mino, Pierluigi Nitas, Santiago Ortaez, Christian Riva, Riccardo Valentini, Wilmar Zimosa

Suggested Audio Candy

“The House of the Dead (Magician’s Theme)”

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In my line of work I am required to watch films from all different walks of life. From big budget studio extravaganzas with lavish set design and a host of recognizable faces to the more obscure low-key offerings which get by mostly on charm alone and a healthy dose of visceral splatter if all else fails. I sat down to view this Italian oddity directly after watching Ti West’s The Sacrament and if West’s movie represents the chalk then Hotel Inferno is most definitely the cheese in the equation. Moldy, stinking, festering Camembert to be precise.

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It boasts something of a first. You see, it is filmed entirely from a first-person perspective. This has been tried before, Andrzej Bartkowiak’s Doom being the best known example, but never for the entire duration to my knowledge. Considering I used to be something of a hardcore gamer and was raised on the likes of Doom, Quake and other first-person shooters, I was somewhat intrigued. In theory it should afford the addressee the chance to become more immersed in the experience and my hopes were raised further by the fact that this film is brought to us by Giulio De Santi, the person responsible for the visual effects on cult classic splatterfest Adam Chaplin. An interesting experiment then, if nothing else.

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Hotel Inferno is certainly different from any other horror film in existence and, for that reason, it ticks a rather large box. Innovation is always welcomed by Keeper and first impressions suggest that it’s evident in spades. Unfortunately it is woefully inept on so many other levels that it becomes nigh-on impossible to overlook any discrepancies and you’re left banking on the grue to bail it out. I’ll get to the splatter, and any ravenous gorehounds will be overjoyed to learn that it is present in über abundance, but not before trying to fathom what the fucking hell went wrong with the rest of the movie.

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Our chosen avatar is ex soldier of fortune turned contract killer Frank Zimosa. He checks into the hotel of the title to receive Intel on his next assignment and receives clear instruction of his targets and methods of dispatch by his mysterious boss Jorge Mistandria who uses an experimental pair of shades to bark his orders and keep a watchful eye over Frank’s progress. Needless to say he botches his very first task and is left desperately trying to escape the hotel and Mistandria’s numerous disfigured henchmen so he can get back home to that back rub his girlfriend Honey has been threatening.

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Given the fact that the entire film plays out through Frank’s eyes it is left to spoken narrative to give us a sense of who he is and why we should be rooting for him. The moment those lips flap and we are locked into the cranium of Derek fucking Zoolander the rickety foundations start to wobble. This has to rank amongst the most ridiculously ham-fisted performances I can recall with recent memory and would seem hackneyed in a second-rate FPS let alone a full-length motion picture. Mercifully he is given little to do in the way of thespian communication and instead cries “Fuck you!” repeatedly whilst bludgeoning every sicko trying to stop him from achieving his high score.

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In terms of pacing I can lodge no formal complaints. At 80 minutes long, Hotel Inferno is swift, merciless entertainment and it would be mean-spirited of me to suggest that you won’t find yourself losing yourself in the madness from time to time. Indeed, there will doubtless be a small trope of easily sated appetites well and truly quenched by the shenanigans on display. For the rest of us however, it really is a Godawful mess. Necrostorm are definitely onto something and I’m sure we shall see further highlights as they continue to widen their repertoire. Alas, this film is not going to win them many new fans.

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I’ve read a little about the exemplary practical effects on display and, whilst admittedly excessive in the extreme, feel disappointed to report that it doesn’t necessarily cut the mustard. On occasion maybe but the whole affair shares parallels with Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste and unfortunately that is where any similarities end rather abruptly. Nevertheless it is insanely gory from the very first frame and rarely lets up throughout but I found it to leave a rather foul aftertaste, merely exploitation for exploitation’s sake and it has every last one of its eggs in this basket.

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I’m trying, really I am, to find positives here and I will say that anyone familiar with Necrostorm’s previous efforts may find some gristle here worth chewing. For a relatively small independent studio they pile it on with gusto and it can never be accused of losing your interest. The real issue is that you’ll know within the first five minutes whether it stands a snow globe in hell’s chance of gaining your attention and, for many of us, the answer to that will be a hefty resounding nope.

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Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 4/10

Grue Factor: 5/5

For the Grue-Guzzlers: For the least demanding among you, Hotel Inferno may well be your own personal Jesus and kudos must be rewarded to De Santi for, at least, keeping things primarily practical. Skulls are crushed, heads blown clean off from close range with shotguns, giblets removed and fingers smashed repeatedly with hammers. It’s admittedly a grue-guzzlers dream but pretty much everybody else’s worst nightmare.

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Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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