This review was first published for when Hotel Poseidon was presented at London FrightFest 2021.

The glorious camerawork and hues together with the sound design and score of Hotel Poseidon have maybe never made the utterly disgusting appear so beautiful. The story of Dave (Tom Vermeir) the manager of a decaying hotel who on waking up in compete filth has a nightmarish day and night as he is pulled upon by family, possibly friends and other very strange people to look after the place and arrange a party.

This hideous time is partially offset at the start of the film when Nora (Anneke Sluiters) arrives insisting on staying for a night despite the obvious condition of the lobby area that it’s not fit for anyone. Reluctant at first Dave is convinced and lets a room out while Nora wanders around. She finds Aunt Lucy wide-eyed with rouged cheeks. Contrary to Dave’s protests she is dead. This sets off a sequence that includes an argument with his mother, a bizarre negotiation with the undertakers and deal with Jacki (Dominique Van Malder) to deal with the matter, along with the party he is organising.

This is a very strange film that has a central story of Aunt Lucy and her pension fund, that it is keeping the hotel afloat. While it segues off with some lengthy sequences that are almost vignettes such as the aforementioned hallucinatory party and later when Dave is trapped in Nora’s room for what could be a lifetime.

What Nora actually is, is open to question. Dave while snooping around her room hides under her when she returns with her plants, strips off and lies on the bed bathed in luxuriant colours looking very much like Poison Ivy, or a demon or an angel.

There may be some who won’t get past the caked-on white-face make-up filth or repulsive food offered up in the first twenty minutes by writer/director Stefan Lernous. Once past that initial disgust it is still very difficult to really get a hook into it. Though it is clear that Dave is not in complete control of his senses partly craving company at the same time eschewing it possibly also cradling a deep trauma. Are we in his head or looking on him surrounded by metaphor?

There’s a level of wilful incoherence here that makes this difficult to like, it’s too structured to be in any sense playful. Its hellish certainly, possibly even an element of purgatory when we consider the last act trapped in Nora’s room which is the most coherent part of the film. It’s certainly brave and interesting but likeable will most definitely be in the eye of the beholder.

Hotel Poseidon is available Arrow Player.