You’ve likely heard this story before: there’s a hotel with a specific room—one which provides an experience like no other. Sometimes the guests are aware, and they take their chances despite the warning. Other times, they are unsuspecting of the danger that lurks within. The latter is true in Country of Hotels, which takes the haunted hotel room trope in a new direction.
An unnamed hotel in small-town America sets the stage for this story. The staff is aware that room 508 is not like the others, yet they do not mention this to the guests checking in. There are several storylines at play within this film, and while each of the room’s inhabitants has no ties to the others, they are all struggling with their own demons.
The room has an effect that seems to amplify the worst in people. A mistress and her lover, a businessman with a short fuse, and a washed-up rock star—each of these guests have an experience like no other in room 508.
This film features a strong cast and starts with an exciting rendezvous between Brenda (Siobhan Hewlett) and Roger (Matthew Leitch). These two fit their roles well and were very believable, making me feel complicit in their actions as a viewer. Adam Leese portrays a short-tempered businessman named Pauly Blumenthal, and he nailed this role. This character got under my skin and while he made me irritable, I also felt empathy for him thanks to the actor’s strong portrayal of a man in mental decline. The last storyline was a bit less intriguing to me, however, the characters were still believable and well-acted.
Perhaps the strongest and most entertaining characters to me were the hotel staff. So often working behind the scenes and dismissed in real life, the crew keeping the place afloat are the true gems in this story. Mia Soteriou as The Desk Clerk steals each scene she is in, sometimes with just a look. Each of the hotel staff characters gives off an eerie persona that adds to the film’s creep factor. There are definitely messages beneath the surface in this film. I won’t go into much detail on what came across to me, as I’d like other viewers to make their own judgments and avoid spoilers. However, I will say that the film definitely made me think twice about the treatment that certain members of society receive.
It speaks to the filmmaking crew’s strength that the majority of the story takes place within one hotel room, yet remains engaging throughout the entire runtime. This adds to the atmosphere and creates a claustrophobic and personal feel to the story being viewed onscreen.
Country of Hotelsis unsettling and despite some commonalities with other stories in this subgenre, it’s a tale unique enough to stand on its own and deliver a good time to the audience. The combination of strong directing, writing and acting make for a good film, but each contributor also shows promise on their own. There is a host of talent on display, and I look forward to their future endeavors.