27th Aug2021

Fantasia 2021: ‘Hotel Poseidon’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ruth Becquart, Steve Geerts, Anneke Sluiters, Tine Van den Wyngaert, Dominique Van Malder, Tom Vermeir | Written and Directed by Stef Lernous

Sometimes, just sometimes, you come across a film that defies categorisation; some that defy logic. Then there’s Hotel Poseidon. Which defies categorisation, logic, explanation… you name it. This film is LITERALLY someones twisted fever dream – a series of vignettes told in one locale from the point of view of one person but featuring a bizarre, absurdist and downright disturbing cast of characters AND situations – writ large on the screen. And whomever this dream belongs to has some serious issues!

The films “plot” – if you can say this film has a plot – tells the story of Dave, the reluctant manager of a hotel where fungus covers the walls and comments such as “faded glory” and “has seen better times” completely fall short to describe this establishment. He wanders the corridors of his personal Overlook Hotel like a zombie (his face literally painted white a la zombie films of old), being a passive spectator to what happens around him – whether it’s clients without cash, the guest who throws a party against Dave’s wishes, his mother castrating him with her sharp tongue or a sick aunt in the hallway whose pension keeps the place going…

Unfortunately, whilst Hotel Poseidon looks and sounds particularly splendid the rest of the film falls flat. With no real characterisation and no real plot, this is very much style over substance. And Hotel Poseidon really needed some substance! The best way to describe the film is Lynchian with shades of Jeunet; though that’s doing a disservice to those filmmakers. This is more like someone who’s watched a their films over and over and was “inspired” to create there own version – a twisted, filthy (literally) version that forgoes any of the things that makes David Lynch and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s work so memorable and so inspired.

Hotel Poseidon seems to be a film that is aiming for a metaphorical representation of the downfall of humanity but doesn’t have any story to back that up. This could be a series of photographs rather than a film and the outcome would be the same – grotesquerie without context. It doesn’t help that the cast over-exaggerate, as if trying to match the grotesque imagery that surrounds them with equally over-the-top performances; but in the end the performances all seem as ridiculous and absurd as the rest of the film!

Make no mistake, Hotel Poseidon is one hell of a calling card for director Stef Lernous, and audiences certainly won’t forget the film any time soon but he needs a better script to back up his obvious talent with imagery. Get the two in sync and, honestly, we could have a new Lynch, or Cronenberg for that matter, on our hands. As it stands now though, I doubt Hotel Poseidon will be noticed outside of film festivals and genre fans.

Hotel Poseidon screened as part of this years Fantasia Film Festival.


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