15th Oct2021

Grimmfest 2021: ‘Night at the Eagle Inn’ Review

by Jim Morazzini

Stars: Amelia Dudley, Taylor Turner, Greg Schweers, Beau Minniear, Erik Bloomquist | Written by Erik Bloomquist, Carson Bloomquist | Directed by Erik Bloomquist

Night at the Eagle Inn is the latest film from Erik and Carson Bloomquist. We’ve been following these filmmakers since way back in 2015 and their first short film The Cobblestone Corridor. Since then they’ve released films like Long Lost and Ten Minutes to Midnight; and now the pair have one of the most anticipated films on this year’s festival circuit in Night at the Eagle Inn. Since the only thing harder than making a hit film is making another one, the question is, can they keep their streak alive?

Sarah Moss (Amelia Dudley; ReRun, HH) and her twin brother Spencer (Taylor Turner; Lillith) are on a mission to solve a dark mystery from their past. They were born prematurely, their mother died during childbirth. Their father vanished that night, never to be seen again. Tonight they’re staying at the hotel where it happened. When they arrive the manager (Greg Schweers; The Karma Club) says he only has one room available, but there’s no other cars in the parking lot. It just gets stranger as the night goes on.

Night at the Eagle Inn is a very lean, stripped down film. It only runs seventy minutes and, apart from the three already mentioned, the only other major character is the handyman Dean (Beau Minniear; Apartment Haunting). The Bloomquists get right down to business and it doesn’t take long before we see the manager acting in ways that definitely indicate severe mental issues. And television sets behaving in ways that indicate a supernatural presence.

There’s not a lot here that we haven’t seen before, and the filmmakers are quite aware of that. At one point Spencer mentions the episode of The Twilight Zone where something similar occurs. And The Twilight Zone is a good reference point for Night at the Eagle Inn. With its short length it almost feels like Rod Serling tried to distill elements of The Shining, Vacancy and The Innkeepers into one of that show’s more macabre episodes. Or, possibly, one of Night Gallery’s more intelligent ones.

The result is an extremely intense film that never lets up once it gets started. The mystery of what is going on gives way to who, if anyone, they should trust as they try to escape. It’s built on a mood that’s only occasionally relieved with a jump scare. More often it’s enhanced with moments such as the twins’ father, played by Erik Bloomquist, appearing on one of the TVs with a message from the beyond.

Night at the Eagle Inn also benefits from the excellent camerawork of Thomson Nguyen who has worked on the Bloomquists’ previous films. He really manages to bring out the inherent shadowy creepiness of the film’s location. Gyom Amphoux, who has scored their earlier films as well as contributing to the soundtracks of films as diverse as The Debt Collector and Brittany Runs a Marathon, is the perfect icing on the cake.

While Night at the Eagle Inn is a very impressive film, it’s not a perfect one. There are a couple of moments where its familiar elements let you guess what’s going to happen. Also, while he usually hits just the right level of manic, Schweers does occasionally go a little too far over the top with his performance.

Despite these mostly minor issues Night at the Eagle Inn is an excellent film, and the best of the Bloomquist brothers films to date. And while I doubt I’ll be seeing their next one, Christmas on the Carousel, you can be sure I’ll be watching for their upcoming take on summer camp slaughter films, She Came from the Woods (expanded from the short film of the same name).

**** 4/5

Night at the Eagle Inn screened as part of this years Grimmfest.

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