COUNTRY OF HOTELS movie poster | ©2023 Terror Films

COUNTRY OF HOTELS movie poster | ©2023 Terror Films

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Siobhan Hewlett, Matthew Leitch, Adam Leese, Michael Laurence, Charles Pike, Sabrina Faroldi, Ben Shafik, Olegar Fedoro, Mia Soteriou, Eugenia Caruso
Writer: David Hauptschein
Director: Julio Maria Martino
Distributor: Terror Films
Release Date: May 26, 2023 (digital)

Despite one great jolting jump scare, COUNTRY OF HOTELS is less the horror movie that’s advertised and more a surreal mixture of David Lynch and TWILIGHT ZONE, minus the zinger twist.

We begin with a man we’ll come to know as Pauly Blumenthal (Adam Leese), doing what appears to be a vlog on his laptop. Pauly is complaining that all hotel rooms are the same.

This is odd, because even the hotel rooms shown in the opening montage are dissimilar. Room 508, where much of the action of COUNTRY OF HOTELS takes place, certainly doesn’t look like most other hotel rooms. The wallpaper appears inspired by the carpeting in the Overlook Hotel in the 1980 THE SHINING, and there’s an ever-changing painting that at no time ever truly resembles the placid landscapes generally decorate hotels.

There’s also a TV that appears to be from the ‘70s at latest, which offers blasts of skull-strewn static when it’s not showing a bad comic or invitations to video porn. Finally, there’s a spycam (or maybe several) hidden in the room.

We get back to Pauly later. First, we meet Brenda (Siobhan Hewlett), a beautiful young woman preparing for her weekend with Roger (Matthew Leitch), who is married to Brenda’s putative best friend Sharon (Charlotte Pyke). We can’t tell if Roger’s concern about Sharon finding out is paranoid or with cause. Time and space seem to bend in the room, where Brenda and Roger individually observe themselves.

Then we meet Pauly again. He’s an IT guy who travels so much for his job that he laments he feels like he lives in “a country of hotels.” He is also abusive to the hotel staff. Pauly is a bit of a hypochondriac, an issue that deepens due to his experiences in Room 508.

A British couple (Emily Corcoran, Alan Ross) want to examine the room before they commit to booking it.

Finally, there’s Derek (Michael Laurence), who’s passed out drunk on the bed waiting for an assignation with Beverly. But the knock on the door isn’t Beverly; it’s Vic (Charles Pike), who claims to be Beverly’s husband and/or a photographer.

Under the direction of Julio Maria Martino, from David Hauptschein’s screenplay, all of these incidents are unnerving, peculiar, and unpredictable. They are also sometimes a little repetitive or even dull.

The hotel staff is comprised of Eastern European characters, who have accents to match. However, there are several characters who are intended to be relatively local to what is said to be Palatine, Illinois, whose American accents falter. Additionally, Pauly uses a lot of Yiddish slang, which he mispronounces (at least, this is not how the words are pronounced in the U.S.) on multiple occasions. All of this becomes increasingly distracting, to the point where we wonder why COUNTRY OF HOTELS isn’t set in the U.K., where many of the cast are from.

COUNTRY OF HOTELS has won multiple festival awards. It seems mostly likely to appeal to viewers who like movies that resemble disquieting dreams that do not explain all, even at the end.

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