hotel poseidon | stefan lernous | tom vermeir | ruth becquart | anneke sluiters | belgium | surreal | arthouse | tania van der sanden | dominique van malder | chiel van berkel | tine van den wyngaert | steve geerts | gene bervoets | tessa friedrich | julia ghysels
Film: Hotel Poseidon
Director: Stefan Lernous
Writer: Stefan Lernous
Starring: Tom Vermeir, Ruth Becquart and Anneke Sluiters
This is a movie that I came on my radar thanks to Duncan from the Podcast Under the Stairs. He reviewed this on a show so I put it on a list of 2022 horror movies to check out. I got around to it during my push late in the year. I knew he said that this was surreal and questioned if this was horror or not. It is interesting that both the Internet Movie Database and Letterboxd list it as such.
Synopsis: a day in the life of reluctant hotel owner Dave (Tom Vermeir), a man troubled by nightmares, his neighbor, his friends and love. His days and nights blend into each other as he wanders vacantly through the halls of the abandoned and dilapidated Hotel Poseidon, which he inherited from his deceased father. When a young woman knocks on the hotel’s door looking for a room, while Dave’s best friend wants to throw a party in the backroom and recurring dream haunts him, a surreal and grisly ordeal is set in motion.
Now there isn’t much more that I can flesh out here as this is a hard movie to follow. What is interesting is that I saw them compare this to David Lynch. That is spot on. The main character is Dave as the synopsis says. He gets woke up by his neighbor watching porn. They yell back and forth to each other, with the latter telling Dave that he needs to do something today that puts him outside of his comfort zone. He gets that as more happens while he goes through this day.
What I didn’t realize was that Dave inherited this place after his father passed away. I know that his aunt’s pension checks are keeping the place open. It probably shouldn’t be though. It is in shambles and he’s embarrassed when Nora (Anneke Sluiters) knocks. She pushes her way in and talks him into letting her stay. Dave grows a crush on her. This will cause him to sneak into her room as she strips down to her underwear. She seems intrigued by him despite how odd he is.
I want to bring up something here that I’ve said. This feels like writer/director Stefan Lernous’ take on a Lynch film. We don’t know what is real and what is a dream. Part of them are dreams and others are nightmares as well. There are things like Dave being lost in a forest where he finds Nora. The two of them have children together and do what they can to raise them off the land. This turns out to be a dream. There are other ones that he experiences that are more nightmarish as well.
Where I want to shift then would be the cinematography. The first that I noticed was the framing of shots. I thought it was great. We set up the state of this hotel by spinning around a room. This ends up being the title card for the movie. Through different layers of junk, it spells out the name. That was creative. Putting myself in this hotel made me anxious. It is in such disarray and the state of things is just beyond repair. I give credit to the set design. One that stood out was Dave making breakfast. Everything he has is gross and probably expired. It makes for a good scene with what we are seeing. I was impressed with this.
Now something I want to explore is if this is a horror movie or not. There isn’t much of in the way of story. We are just seeing Dave go through a day here. He doesn’t seem to know what is going on either. He goes from different set piece to the next. There are dreams while also seeing reality. The place I’ve already set up is gross. There isn’t anything necessary horrific outside of that. I guess part of placing it in horror is the situations that he gets into. They are uncomfortable. It could be the atmosphere as well. That gives off a creepy vibe. I would be hard-pressed though to truly consider this horror.
Then I think I’ll take this over to the acting. It is all solid in such an odd way. Vermeir plays Dave well. He is aloof and doesn’t necessarily know what is going on around him. It is interesting since he is our lead, we follow him. We are as lost as he is which works. Makes for a dynamic that I enjoyed. Sluiters is attractive as Nora. We get to see her nude if memory serves which is good. I thought that she plays a character who fits in the world and doesn’t find it weird. That makes it more surreal. Other than that, the rest of the cast plays their characters. I think that adds to the atmosphere as well.
There isn’t much more that I can delve into here so I will say then in conclusion, I enjoyed this. I think that it is a well-made movie. This is more of an experience than a coherent story to follow. Dave goes through a day that is surreal and dreamlike. At times, you could say that it is a nightmare. The cast around him help for this. We get great cinematography which helps. The state of the place made me uncomfortable in the best way possible. I can’t fully call this horror, even though that is how it is listed. Won’t be for everyone. If you like arthouse films, I think you can appreciate how this is made. It is lacking for me to fully get invested though.
My Rating: 7 out of 10