01st Jul2021

‘Dinosaur Hotel’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Chelsea Greenwood, Aimee Marie Higham, Alexander John, Sofia Lacey, Nicole Nabi, Kate Sandison, Stephen Staley, Chrissie Wunna | Written by Shannon Holiday | Directed by Jack Peter Mundy

Here we go again… Another week another Jagged Edge Productions film… or is it Proportion Productions? These days there’s no real way to distinguish which production company the ever-prolific Scott Jeffrey – who’s churning out films so fast they’re now releasing straight on the internet rather than traditional delivery methods – is going to put out a film under.

From what I can figure out, and I could be totally wrong, it seems Jeffrey works with actresses then, if said actresses have an interest in filmmaking rather than performing, he sets up production companies to work with them. For example: Jeffrey’s name first popped up alongside Louisa Warren and the production company Champdog Films; then came Rebecca Matthews and Proportion Productions; and now we have Jagged Edge Productions, where Jeffrey seemingly working with actress turned producer/director/writer Antonia Johnstone.

Speaking of Scott Jeffrey, I discovered recently that name is actually a pseudonym for a current working UK actor – and his longtime filmmaking partner Rebecca Matthews is the same… another actress turned filmmaker whose chosen a pseudonym to work in low-budget productions (thought she did star in one such production early on in the Champdog/Proportion/Jagged Edge oeuvre). So at this point I’m questioning whether anyone involved with Jeffrey’s films is even “real”… Shannon Holiday, are YOU even real? No bio on IMDb, no pic, nothing. Hey, at least Dinosaur Hotel director Jack Peter Mundy IS real!

Like a lot of people working with Jeffrey, Mundy has previously worked on a number of his productions as cinematographer, now getting a chance to stretch his filmmaking talents in the directors chair for a film that is Jurassic Park meets Escape Room – and the weirdest gameshow ever conceived!

You see Dinosaur Hotel is not just the name of the film, its the name of a gameshow – set in the titular hotel – in which a group of woman are faced with a series of challenges, aka a bunch of bloody-thirsty dinosaurs, and must make it through the night, last woman standing style. Out heroine is Sienna (Chrissie Wunna), a down on her luck mother who’s so desperate to make ends meet she takes part in there game without even knowing what it entails… Which is probably why she stupidly takes her kids along with her! We know she’s in for a hard time as the prologue lets the audience in on the games twisted secret, that its contestants are hunted by dinosaurs and in reality there’s not real way out of the game… Well not unless it turns out a contestant is a skilled dinosaur hunter – which none of these women are!

What they are is told, by a strange floating orb relaying the commands of the “Games Master”, that there’s phones won’t work and they’re going to be killed by the dinosaurs. Not much a gameshow then, especially considering its not even broadcast on national TV! I joke of course but the premise of Dinosaur Hotel truly is bizarre, it’s almost like someone was inspired by the climax of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and its “dinos on the rampage through a house” plotting. So much so that they thought it would make for a great film… Hell, Dinosaur Hotel even riffs on the now-classic scene from the first Jurassic Park film – raptors loose in a kitchen with one of Sienna’s kids!

In terms of Sienna’s kids, their sub-plot seems them go off exploring before the game starts, heading into a cave on the property – which at least give Sienna motivation to stay alive, no matter what, to keep her kids safe – giving her an edge over the other women playing the game, who are little more than generic stereotypes waiting to be picked off one-by-one by the CGI-rendered dinosaurs. Speaking of which… Yes, there’s absolutely nothing in the budget of Dinosaur Hotel to render anything other than your typical Asylum-level monsters here. These dinos are fake and they look fake. And after seeing how well the dinosaurs were rendered in other low-budget genre fare such as Triassic Hunt, it’s hard to forgive bad CGI – even if said CGI does, at times, strangely look like old-school stop-motion animation. A stylistic choice perhaps but one that, if so, would require the film to be on a par with that style choice. And given the rest of the film looks like your usual shot on digital film, its dichotomy that just doesn’t work.

If you’ve seen Jurassic Games then you’ve seen the same plot done better. Here we get no real explanation for the dinosaurs and just HOW they bloody-well exist(!), for why the women are invited to play (and die) and what pleasure the Games Master takes from all this beyond making money (a poor excuse IMHO). In Jurassic Games they at least blamed it all on government-sponsored punishment for criminals. But hey, at least this take on “reality TV’ horror is a lot better than some, bigger-budgeted efforts!

**½  2.5/5

Dinosaur Hotel is available to stream online now.

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