Fantasia 2021: Checking into HOTEL POSEIDON

Such a lovely place…

I don’t know why hotel-set stories have been as popular as they have been lately, but I’m not complaining. Over the last couple of years, everything from Hotel Artemis to Bad Times at the El Royale to Doctor Sleep have brought about fascinating tales of disparate characters linked together for a brief window of time in a world which only they inhabit. One of the newest discoveries in this genre is Hotel Poseidon; a warped and dizzying journey into the kind of madness that’s hard to illustrate, but remains it’s own kind of compelling storytelling.

In writer/director Stefan Lernous’ tale, Tom Vermeir stars as Dave, the troubled, haunted would-be manager of the titular hotel, which attracts the odd random guest from time to time who manage to make themselves right at home in the otherworldy establishment. Soon, the death of an elderly aunt sets off a chain of events which will bring Dave to the breaking point and cause him to question his sanity in a way he never thought he would.

What better word is there to use for a film like Hotel Poseidon than phantasmagorical? Everything about this film is mind bending on some level, from its visuals to the people Dave encounters in every room and corridor of the doomed establishment. Lernous sets a very distinct look and feel for the film that is matched only by its surreal tone which the filmmaker spectacularly holds all the way through. The reality of Hotel Poseidon is one which is recognizable in brief flashes, but is constructed by the likes of depravity, hedonism and rage, all of which roam the halls alongside the guests.

At its center is a character trying to reconcile himself with his demons, most of which exist around him as very real entities and pull him deeper into the hellish prison the hotel represents. The film contains a handful of instantly iconic images, not least of all a scene between Dave and a female undertaker that’s just as unnerving as it is compulsively watchable. All of it culminates in an extended third act sequence which turns into the party from hell with Dave coming face to face with what he fears the most. A film meant to be experienced more than anything else, Hotel Poseidon is a memorable journey to a cinematic hell like no other.

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