Written and directed by Stefan Lernous, Dave reluctantly pretends to be the manager of Hotel Poseidon, 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, being a passive spectator to what happens around him. Starring: Tom Vermeir, Ruth Becquart, Anneke Sluiters, Tania Van der Sanden, Dominique Van Malder, Chiel Van Berkel, Tine Van den Wyngaert and Steve Geerts.
If you’re a person who is obsessed with cleanliness and upset by the sight of grime or decay, you may want to avoid a visit to Hotel Poseidon. This film gleefully embraces the disgusting and dives headfirst into building an atmosphere filled with a sense of derelict, sleaze, filth and grunge. Its entire aesthetic is pulled perfectly from the hotel of your nightmares, countless people around the world will have been terrorised in their sleep by having to stay in such a place. The set design, costumes, make-up and cinematography all work to push everything into as similar palette as possible, to not give the false idea that anything truly living is present. Aesthetically it’s impressively consistent in its detail, it spares no expense in making a hellish landscape.
That in itself is a great setup, it has endless possibilities of where the journey may go, a route likely influenced by filmmakers like Jim Hosking, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro, Terry Gilliam or Sion Sono. Unfortunately, the path it does take doesn’t live up to that potential. Some may take plenty from its exploration of sin and purgatory but others may find it lacking. Tom Vermeir does such a great job of making Dave a hapless, meek zombie that there’s little reason to invest in his story. He creates an odd sense of disillusionment of existing in his personal slice of hell or limbo. The stakes do increase as the film progresses, particularly in its big finale, but there isn’t really enough to keep you invested and truly hold your attention until the credits roll.
The entire ensemble does a great job of hitting that classic note of having ridiculously odd and unusual conversations, with a tone of normalcy. Every time a new character arrives onto the scene, more layers of questions and curiosity are added, ones which may never be answered but that doesn’t lessen the performances.
Hotel Poseidon starts out on good footing but eventually gets trapped in a cycle of weird for weird’s sake, there isn’t an extra element or larger story to carry it through. Fans of the strange will still enjoy its eccentric use of grim and grimy, and anyone can appreciate the level of effort put into creating the brilliant aesthetic. Unfortunately it’s just one journey into purgatory which never quite makes it through the gates.